India, Malaysia object to new China map - GulfToday

India, Malaysia object to new China map

A Google Maps image edited to show the two regions claimed by China in the new map.

A Google Maps image edited to show the two regions claimed by China in the new map.

India and Malaysia have reacted strongly to a new map issued by China. India objected to the map showing the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh in the northeast and Aksai Chin in Ladakh as part of China, and Malaysia took exception to the fact that the Chinese map showed the whole of South China Sea as Chinese territory, including those parts of Malaysian Borneo.

There was an exchange of statements between the foreign offices of the three states. Indian foreign office spokesman Arindam Bagchi said, “We reject these claims as they have no basis. Such steps by the Chinese side only complicate the resolution of the border question.” The border dispute between the two large Asian states has been a longstanding one, going back to nearly 70 years, and there has been a war between the two in 1962 and a flashpoint in June 2020 when soldiers on both sides died. The Chinese foreign office responded saying that the map was “an exercise of sovereignty in accordance with the law.”

The Malaysian foreign ministry in a statement on Thursday said, “Malaysia does not recognise China’s claims in the South China Sea as outlined in the ‘2023 edition of the standard map of China’ which extends into Malaysian maritime area. The map has no binding effect on Malaysia.” Malaysia also said that the issue of the sovereignty of South China is a complex and sensitive issue, and it has to be resolved through dialogue and with regard to international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) of 1982 which superseded the traditional claims of China over the area. It is not just Malaysia that is at loggerheads with China over the South China Sea. Vietnam, the Philippines and Taiwan too dispute Chinese claims.

China as a strong military power that wants to assert its territorial claims but other countries in the neighbourhood are opposed to it. This makes the region tense and conflict-prone. And it also enables the United States to enter the fray as defending the trade routes passing through South China Sea. The US is also committed to defend China, and it has a military base in the Philippines. And with the formation of the QUAD comprising the US, Japan, Australia and India, the South China Sea has become an area of contention.

China has objected to the formation of QUAD. China feels that it is being encircled by a hostile formation though the QUAD members have said that it was not anti-China and that it was meant to develop mutual trade relations among the four countries. The QUAD also insists about keeping the shipping lanes in South China Sea free. China on the other hand feels that it has a right to militarily monitor the shipping traffic passing through the South China Sea. This is a provocation for the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan.

China is not only the second largest economy in the world after the US, but it is also seen as a strong military power. And China does not hesitate to assert its military strength in what it believes to be its sphere of influence. China wants to go back to its ancient period when it was the most powerful country in the region. But in the modern period with the emergence of other independent and equal states in international law even though they are small, it creates a tricky situation. It would appear that China wants to make its maximalist claims to get a better bargain at the time of negotiations. And the same time holds good with India, where the claim is seen as a bargaining chip at the border talks.

Related articles

Other Articles