Fact check: ESPN broadcasts China map showing invalidated ‘9-dash line’



MANILA, Philippines — Sports entertainment giant ESPN broadcast on Wednesday a controversial map of China showing the already disproven “nine-dash line” used to illustrate its claim over virtually the entire South China Sea which was invalidated in a 2016 ruling by an international tribunal.

The said map shown for about four seconds in the ESPN broadcast contained the “nine-dash line,” legally invalidated by the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, Netherlands, which refers to literal dash marks in maps of China that allege its claim to around 80% of the resource-rich South China Sea.

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The number of dash marks can vary, but the popular term used in maps that attempt to legitimize Chinese maritime territory is known as the “nine-dash line.”

China has maritime disputes in the South China Sea with the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei. Over $5 trillion in trade passes yearly through the waterway.

However, the Permanent Court of Arbitration on July 12, 2016, ruled that China’s “nine-dash line” territorial claim is invalid.

“[T]he Tribunal concludes that, as between the Philippines and China, China’s claims to historic rights, or other sovereign rights or jurisdiction, with respect to the 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,” the award read.

“The Tribunal concludes that the Convention superseded any historic rights or other sovereign rights or jurisdiction in excess of the limits imposed therein.”

The international tribunal determined that China not only violated the Philippines’ sovereignty but also left irreversible environmental consequences.

Evidence includes the stealing of giant clams and sea turtles, harmful fishing practices that damaged the fragile coral reef ecosystem in the South China Sea, conducting massive land reclamation at seven reefs in the Spratly Islands and construction of artificial islands.

The said construction of islands in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone was also found in violation of Beijing’s commitment under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

“The Tribunal concludes that, as between the Philippines and China, the Convention defines the scope of maritime entitlements in the South China Sea, which may not extend beyond the limits imposed therein,” the ruling read.

While the Hague decision had a legal basis and was ground on valid evidence, the Philippine government under the Duterte administration refuses to assert the findings with China.