The government says the “complex and sensitive” dispute needs to be resolved through dialogue and urges swift agreement on a code of conduct.
Malaysia has rejected the latest version of the “standard map of China” which claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, including areas off the coast of Malaysian Borneo.
Tensions have risen in strategically important waters as China has become increasingly assertive in its claim despite a 2016 international tribunal ruling that the so-called “nine-point line” was unfounded and superseded by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. United Nations Law of the Sea).
In recent years, it has built military outposts on rocky outcrops and deployed coast guards and naval militia, sometimes leading to confrontations with other claimants, including Malaysia and the Philippines. Vietnam, Brunei and Taiwan also claim sovereignty over the sea.
Malaysia noted that the new map, which clearly depicts the nine-point line, showed China’s “unilateral maritime claims” overlapped with Malaysia’s claims to Sabah and Sarawak.
“Malaysia does not recognize China’s claims in the South China Sea as set forth in the 2023 edition of the Standard Map of China which extends into the Malaysian maritime zone,” the foreign ministry said in a statement Thursday evening. “The map has no binding effect on Malaysia.”
The tongue-shaped nine-point line is based on Chinese historical records dating back to the Xia Dynasty, nearly 4,000 years ago.
India has already lodged a strong protest over China’s new map, which it said showed the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh and the Aksai Chin Plateau as official Chinese territory. The two have been in dispute over their mutual boundaries for decades, with clashes reported in 2020.
“We reject these allegations as they are baseless. Such steps by the Chinese side only complicate the resolution of the border issue,” Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said in a statement.
Asked about India’s criticism, Beijing said the map reflected “China’s exercise of sovereignty in accordance with law.”
“We hope relevant parties can maintain objectivity and calmness and refrain from over-interpreting the issue,” foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told the media at a press conference on Wednesday.
Malaysia said in its statement that the issue of sovereignty over the South China Sea is “complex and sensitive” and needs to be resolved through dialogue and consultation in accordance with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
It said it was committed to further negotiations on an “effective and substantive” code of conduct in the South China Sea leading to its “expeditious” conclusion.
Malaysia has said it will continue to explore for oil and gas off Borneo, despite Chinese threats. And in 2021, it summoned the Chinese ambassador to protest the “presence and activities” of Chinese ships in its exclusive economic zone off Borneo.
China has also upset the Philippines with its activities in the South China Sea.
A number of incidents have been reported around the Second Thomas Shoal, commonly known as Ayunjin Shoal in the Philippines, which is located about 200 kilometers (124 miles) from the Philippine island of Palawan and more than 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) from Hainan Island, the nearest major island in the Philippines. China. land area.
Earlier this month, Manila summoned the Chinese ambassador after the Chinese coast guard fired a water cannon at a ship trying to resupply Filipino sailors there, while in February it lodged a protest after accusing China of pointing a “military laser” at its ships. utensils.
Beijing seized the Scarborough Shoal from the Philippines after a months-long standoff in 2012, after seizing Mischief Reef in 1995. It seized the Paracel Islands from Vietnam in 1974.
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