The recent publication of China’s new national map – which both re-affirms its historical claims to the South China Sea and incorporates a 10th ‘dash’ in the East China Sea, near Taiwan – has created ripples in Southeast Asia and beyond. Since the 10th dash is not, in fact, new, there is less novelty to this development than first meets the eye. It nonetheless raises important questions about China’s intentions, which hover around the basic ambiguity of its position.
The latest national map was published in June by SinoMaps Press, China’s state mapping authority, under the jurisdiction of the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping. It is thus officially approved. Previously, Beijing had asserted its South China Sea claims with reference to a nine-dash line encompassing a large swath of the strategically important sea, including disputed islands close to neighbouring countries. This was previously presented as an ‘inset’ within the official map, with this inset appended, for example, to China’s official protest against Vietnam’s and Malaysia’s joint submission to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf in May 2009. Yet now, Beijing’s familiar nine-dash line has been supplemented by a 10th dash east of Taiwan, and has been fully integrated into the new national map. This map also features as a background in China’s latest passports, a development that has drawn protests from both Vietnam and the Philippines.
Read more: http://www.rusi.org/publications/newsbrief/ref:A5225D72CD72F8/#.Ui0r7bysIfF