Vietnam opposes China's new national map

By Huyen Le   August 31, 2023 | 05:21 am PT
Vietnam opposes China's new national map
Spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Pham Thu Hang. Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
China's new "2023 standard map" is a violation of sovereignty as it includes Vietnam's Spratly and Paracel islands within its infamous U-shaped line, the foreign affairs ministry has announced.

"The fact that China’s Ministry of Natural Resources has issued what’s called the '2023 standard map,' with the inclusion of Vietnam’s Paracel and Spratly islands as well as the dotted line, has violated Vietnam’s sovereignty over the islands, as well as its sovereignty, sovereignty rights and jurisdiction rights over Vietnam’s sea regions as determined by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)," spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Pham Thu Hang said in a press release issued Thursday.

China's sovereignty and sea claims based on the dotted line, as shown on the "standard map," therefore holds no value and violates international law, especially the UNCLOS, she added.

Vietnam continues to strongly affirm its consistent stance regarding sovereignty over the Spratly and Paracel islands as well as resolutely opposing all of China’s claims on the South China Sea based on the dotted line, she said.

China has also engaged in artificial island-building and militarization in the East Sea with illegal construction on seven reefs of Vietnam's Spratly Islands.

Several other Southeast Asian countries have also rejected China's new map.

"Malaysia does not recognize China's claims in the South China Sea, as outlined in the 'China Standard Map 2023 Edition' which covers Malaysia's maritime area," Malaysia's foreign ministry said in a statement, as cited by AFP.

The map included claims in the sea which overlap with Malaysia's exclusive economic zone off the coast of the Sabah and Sarawak states on Borneo island.

The Philippines on Thursday asked China "to act responsibly and abide by its obligations" under international law and a 2016 arbitral ruling that had declared the line had no legal grounds.

"This latest attempt to legitimise China's purported sovereignty and jurisdiction over Philippine features and maritime zones has no basis under international law," the Philippine Foreign Ministry said, as cited by Reuters.

The new map was different to a version submitted by China to the United Nations in 2009 that included its so-called "nine-dash line." It had a 10-dash line that is similar to a 1948 map of China, and another map published by China in 2013.

The "standard map" that China’s natural resources ministry issued also includes disputed territories with India on the Himalayas. India, through diplomatic channels, has strongly opposed the inclusion, according to the spokesman of India’s Ministry of External Affairs Arindam Bagchi. New Delhi said two regions shown on the map, Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin, belong to India.

Asked about the latest map at a regular briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said that "China's position on the South China Sea issue has always been clear."

"We hope that relevant parties can view this in an objective and rational manner," Wang said, as cited by Reuters.

The U-shaped line drawn up by China claims most of the South China Sea. The line has been internationally condemned and rejected for violating international law.

*Correction: A previous edition of this report incorrectly described the dotted line in China's new map as the nine-dash line.

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