China’s release of an updated national map has sparked objections from neighboring countries, including the Philippines, Malaysia, and India. These countries have issued strong statements accusing China of making territorial claims that encroach upon their land.
New National Map Arouses Discontent
China has periodically published updated versions of its national map since 2006, aimed at rectifying what it considers “problematic maps” that inaccurately portray its territorial borders. However, this recent revision has sparked discontent as it seemingly extends Beijing’s claims beyond its recognized boundaries.
Neighbors Reject the Map
The Philippines has joined the list of objectors, rejecting the new map due to its inclusion of a dashed line around contested areas of the South China Sea. This dashed line was subject to a 2016 international tribunal ruling that favored Manila, which the Philippines argues invalidates China’s claim.
India was the first to raise concerns, objecting to the inclusion of its state, Arunachal Pradesh, and the disputed Aksai-Chin plateau within Chinese territory. India lodged a “strong protest” against these claims, emphasizing their lack of legal basis.
Malaysia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs echoed the sentiment, dismissing China’s unilateral claims. The nation stood firm in rejecting foreign parties’ assertions of sovereignty over its maritime features.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin brushed off these objections, terming the revisions a “routine exercise of sovereignty in accordance with the law.” China’s assertive foreign policy under President Xi Jinping has been marked by its willingness to make bolder claims in various key flashpoints across Asia.
The map dispute comes amidst attempts to deescalate tensions between India and China. The two countries recently agreed to intensify efforts to lower tensions at their contested border. However, analysts caution that progress might not always be linear due to their geopolitical goals and ambitions.
Border disputes between India and China have existed for decades, leading to conflicts in the past. The Line of Actual Control (LAC), an ill-defined de facto border, has divided the two populous nations and remains a source of friction.
The ongoing tensions have influenced India’s relationship with China and the United States. India’s pushback against perceived threats from China includes bans on Chinese apps and efforts to exclude Chinese telecom giants from its 5G network. Rising nationalism in both countries has also strengthened India’s alliance with the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad), a counterweight to China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific region.
As China’s new national map ignites diplomatic friction, it underscores the complex and shifting landscape of global relations. While efforts to deescalate tensions exist, the deeper geopolitical currents that shape the actions of these nations will continue to play a significant role in their interactions.