Aug 31 (Reuters) – The Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam have dismissed as baseless a map released by China indicating its sovereignty claims, including in the South China Sea, and Beijing said on Thursday it should be viewed rationally and objectively.
China on Monday released a map of its famous U-shaped line that covers about 90% of the South China Sea, a source of many disputes in one of the world’s most contested waterways, where more than $3 trillion worth of trade passes each year.
The Philippines on Thursday called on China to “act responsibly and abide by its obligations” under international law and the 2016 arbitration award that declared the line without any legal basis.
Malaysia said it had lodged a diplomatic protest over the map.
China says the line is based on its historical maps. It was not immediately clear if the latest map indicated any new claim to the land.
The Chinese U-shaped line extends up to 1,500 kilometers (932 miles) south of Hainan Island and cuts through the exclusive economic zones of Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia.
“This latest attempt to legitimize China’s alleged sovereignty and jurisdiction over Philippine maritime features and areas has no basis under international law,” the Philippine Foreign Ministry said.
Its Malaysian counterpart said in a statement that the new map has no binding authority over Malaysia, which “also views the South China Sea as a complex and sensitive issue”.
The map was different from the narrower version that China presented to the United Nations in 2009 for the South China Sea, which included the so-called “nine-point line”.
The latest map is of a wider geographic area and contains a 10-dash line that includes democratically-ruled Taiwan, similar to the 1948 map of China. China also published a 10-dashed map in 2013.
Asked about the latest map, Taiwanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Jeff Liu said Taiwan “is not at all part of the People’s Republic of China.”
“No matter how the Chinese government distorts its stance on Taiwan’s sovereignty, it cannot change the objective fact of our country’s existence,” he said at a press conference.
China’s Central Radio and Television Corporation reported Tuesday that China is holding a “national map awareness week.”
Asked why China released the latest map with 10 dashes compared to a map with nine dashes, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said that Beijing was not vague about its territory.
“China’s position on the South China Sea issue has always been clear. China’s relevant authorities regularly update and release various types of standard maps every year,” he told a regular press conference.
“We hope relevant parties can view this in an objective and rational way,” he added.
Late Thursday, the Vietnamese foreign ministry said that China’s claims based on the map are worthless and violate Vietnamese and international laws.
Vietnam “firmly rejects any claims of China in the East Sea based on the dotted line,” foreign ministry spokesman Pham Thu Hang said in a statement, referring to the South China Sea.
Separately, Hang said that Vietnamese authorities are seeking to clarify allegations by Vietnamese fishermen that a Chinese vessel attacked their fishing boat with water cannons earlier this week in the South China Sea, injuring two of them.
“Vietnam opposes the use of force against Vietnamese fishing boats operating normally at sea,” it said in a statement sent to Reuters.
India said on Tuesday it had lodged a strong protest with China over a new map claiming Indian territory, the latest jingle in the strained relations between the two Asian giants.
(Reporting by Karen Lima in Manila, Ben Blanchard in Taipei, Liz Lee in Beijing, and Khanh Phu in Hanoi; Reporting by Mohamed for the Arabic Bulletin; Editing by Mohamed Alyamany) Editing by Martin Beatty and Frances Kerry
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