JAKARTA – Indonesia will openly express its opposition to China’s vast claims in the South China Sea when Southeast Asian senior officials, ministers and leaders gather over the coming days in Kuala Lumpur for a series of annual meetings, stressing that China’s “nine-dash lines” map has no legal basis, a government source said Friday.
The area contained in the lines, which covers most of the South China Sea, overlaps with the exclusive economic zone around Indonesia’s Natuna Islands.
Indonesia protested against China’s map when it was submitted to the United Nations in May 2009.
The source, citing a position paper, said Indonesia will say during meetings of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations that it does not recognize China’s claims based on the nine-dash line map because it “clearly lacks international legal basis,” and therefore Jakarta considers the claims to be in a state of “non-existence.”
Although Indonesia is not a claimant state in the territorial disputes in the South China Sea, it has been warily monitoring China’s development of infrastructure there, including rig and lighthouse construction, as well as its seismic surveys and fishing activities, the paper says.
It says Indonesia will stress that it has sovereignty over maritime territory in Natuna Sea and some parts of the South China Sea and therefore needs “to maintain its sovereignty and its sovereign rights in each maritime zone.”
Through diplomatic channels and notes, Indonesia has been repeatedly seeking clarification from China on the nine-dash line, which was shown on a map published in 1947 by the then-Republic of China to justify its claims in the South China Sea, but to no avail, the source said.
The source said Indonesia will continue playing a positive role in helping to resolve the disputes among the claimants on occasions such as the ASEAN-China Senior Officials’ Meeting and during meetings with China aimed at drafting a legally binding code of conduct in the South China Sea.