New Map Stretches to Stress South China Sea Claims


China has unveiled a new map of the country that has been vertically extended to emphasize Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea. Edward Wong at the New York Times reports:

Chinese claims in the South China Sea have appeared on Chinese maps before, but mostly in the form of an inset. The new map takes a novel approach. It was presented on Monday in Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province, by Lei Yixun, the chief editor of the publishing house.

In representing China’s claims, the map has 10 dashes in the shape of a tongue around the South China Sea. This is one dash more than the map that was drawn up by the Kuomintang government in the 1940s and that is often cited by Chinese officials as a historical basis for the Communist state’s claims. Many people call that earlier map the “nine dashes” or the “cow’s tongue.” The new vertical map, with its 10 dashes, can be seen on the English website of People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s mouthpiece.

[…] One thing the map does not show is how China is moving sand onto three or four reefs and rocks in the Spratlys in an effort to turn them into full-fledged islands. Foreign officials say China has been doing this since January. The Philippines has already twice filed formal complaints with China over the island construction, and Vietnam and the United States have both denounced it. [Source]

A Supreme Court judge in the Philippines recently described the earlier nine-dashed line as “a gigantic historical fraud” after consulting 72 ancient maps of the region, including 15 of Chinese origin.

China Real Time’s Wayne Ma posted an explanation of the new map’s rationale and some official and unofficial reactions:

“[This map] will give the reader a comprehensive and intuitive awareness of China’s entire map,” Xinhua said, citing Lei Yixun, the editor in chief of Hunan Map Press. “Readers won’t ever think again that China’s territory has primary and secondary claims.”

“Some map-publishing authorities in some provinces issued a new version of China’s map, and I believe their goal of doing this is to serve the public,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Wednesday at a regular news briefing. “There is no need to over-read their intentions. China’s position on the South China Sea is consistent and clear. There is no change in our position.” [Source]

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