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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

PH rejects 10-dash China map

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The Philippines on Thursday rejected the 2023 standard map of China, which includes the West Philippine Sea as part of its territory, and became the third nation to assail Beijing’s attempt to assert sovereignty over disputed maritime territories in the South China Sea.

Earlier, India and Malaysia dismissed China’s newly-released map, which features a 10-dash line that signifies its claim of ownership over the entire South China Sea, encompassing the exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Brunei.

The new map also lays claim to the Indian State of Arunachal Pradesh and the Aksai Chin Plateau.

“The Philippines rejects the 2023 version of China’s Standard Map issued by the Ministry of Natural Resources of the People’s Republic of China on Aug. 28, 2023, because of its inclusion of the nine-dashed line (now a 10-dashed line) that supposedly shows China’s boundaries in the South China Sea,” the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.

“This latest attempt to legitimize China’s purported sovereignty and jurisdiction over Philippine features and maritime zones has no basis under international law, particularly the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),” it added.

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10-DASH LINE MAP. This image from China’s Ministry of Natural Resources shows the 2023 edition of the country’s Standard Map, including its claimed territories in the South China Sea as marked by a 10-dash line (lower right of photo). The Philippines has rejected this map of China, which includes the West Philippine Sea as part of its territory, and became the third nation to assail Beijing’s attempt to assert sovereignty over disputed maritime territories.

The Philippines asserted that the 2016 Arbitral Ruling issued by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague has already invalidated China’s dash-line claim, which was originally a nine-dash line.

“It categorically stated that ‘maritime areas of the South China Sea encompassed by the relevant part of the ‘nine-dash line’ are contrary to the Convention and without lawful effect to the extent that they exceed the geographic and substantive limits of China’s maritime entitlements under the Convention,'” DFA said.

DFA Assistant Secretary Daniel Espiritu said the Philippines is considering including in its statement about Manila’s position when President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. meets his ASEAN counterparts during the 43rd ASEAN Summit in September.

“Definitely there are external partners who support us,” Espiritu said, although he said he could not be sure there would be consensus support from the regional bloc.

In the face of a strong backlash, China has asked affected countries to remain “calm” and urged them to “refrain from over-interpreting the issue.”

Wang Wenbin, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, said it was only “a routine practice” for China to release a map signifying the supposed extent of its territory, that was only its “exercise of sovereignty in accordance with law.”

The release of the map comes on the heels of China’s aggression in the South China Sea, by deploying navy ships and harassing foreign personnel, including Filipinos, patrolling the vast ocean.

The DFA called on China “to act responsibly” and abide by its obligations under UNCLOS and 2016 Arbitral Award, which Manila considers “final and binding” but which Beijing rejects.

At the upcoming ASEAN Summit, Marcos is expected to continue to push for adherence to a rules-based international order to settle disputes, including the overlapping claims in the SCS.

The Philippines will continue to uphold and exercise freedom of navigation and overflight with the South China Sea, in accordance with international law,” he said.

The UNCLOS, adopted in 1982, lays down a comprehensive legal framework governing all activities and uses of the world’s seas and oceans. It also establishes general obligations for safeguarding the marine environment and protecting the freedom of scientific research on the high seas.

The Philippines, China, and several other littoral states are locked in a territorial dispute over the resource-rich SCS where Beijing claims around 80 percent of the strategic waters.

The Philippines on July 12, 2016 won its petition filed before the

Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) after the arbitral tribunal invalidated Beijing’s claim of supposed historic rights over almost the entire SCS.

China, however, has repeatedly ignored the PCA ruling.

Senator Risa Hontiveros on Thursday took a swipe at China for releasing a map that showed the West Philippine Sea as part of Chinese territory.

“China is delusional,” Hontiveros said. “They’re just doing anything to get our territory.”

“India has already lodged a protest against China for issuing this ridiculous map,” she added, saying the DFA should follow suit.

She said the DFA should also coordinate with the National Resource and Mapping Authority (NAMRIA) to update a map that clearly shows the country’s exclusive economic zone, continental shelves, and territorial seas in the West Philippine Sea.

“We know that China is a master manipulator, willing to bend the truth for her own gain, at the expense of countries like ours. China will continue to spread fake news, fund pro-Beijing mouthpieces, and distribute propaganda materials. We must push back. We must not rest until China stops her absurdity.”

Senator Francis Escudero said China can issue as many maps as it wants, but this will not affect the PCA ruling in the Philippines’ favor. He added that any unilateral declaration by a state has no weight or standing in international law.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III said the Philippines is under no obligation to recognize the territorial claims of other countries.

Stratbase ADR Institute, a think tank, rejected the map as “a desperate attempt [by China] to legitimize its territorial claims.”

“It is a mockery of the rules-based international order and of basic decency,” the institute said in a statement.

“We reiterate that the arbitral award issued by the Permanent Court of Arbitration is clear and final– China’s nine-dash line is baseless and illegal. China’s claims to sovereign and historic rights in the maritime area are contrary to the UNCLOS.”

“The publication of the map has the dangerous potential of propagating disinformation by advancing the Chinese narrative that the West Philippine Sea is part of their territory. No attempt to redraw geopolitical boundaries will make this acceptable, as this is a blatant violation of international law,” it added.

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