China rebuffs US for hitting 10-dash line

MANILA, Philippines – The Chinese embassy rebuffed United States Ambassador Philip Goldberg after the diplomat dismissed as baseless in international law China's 10-dash line, a demarcation to claim the South China Sea.

In a statement on Sunday evening, June 29, the Chinese embassy in the Philippines also said the South China Sea dispute is none of America's business.

This is especially because the US government has not ratified the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the so-called Constitution for the Oceans that the Philippines invokes in rejecting China's claims.

The Chinese embassy said, “We noted that Ambassador Goldberg reiterated that the United States takes no position on competing claims on sovereignty over the disputes on the South China Sea.”

“The US is not a party concerned in the dispute in the South China Sea; it has not ratified the UNCLOS either. It is our hope that it could do more to promote peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific, rather than the opposite,” the Chinese embassy said.

China asserts 'sovereignty'

The embassy said it “expresses concern” after the US ambassador to the Philippines, in a meeting of the Philippine Constitution Association on Thursday, June 26, rejected the 10-dash line as inconsistent with international law, according to reports.

The 10-dash line lengthens the usual 9-dash line that China uses to claim virtually the entire South China Sea, including parts claimed by the Philippines as the West Philippine Sea.

A photo of a map recently published by Xinhua, a Chinese state-run news agency, triggered criticisms over the 10-dash line.

NEW MAP. A new Chinese map shows a 10-dash line to claim virtually the entire South China Sea. Screen grab from news.xinhuanet.com/Image edited by Rappler

NEW MAP. A new Chinese map shows a 10-dash line to claim virtually the entire South China Sea. Screen grab from news.xinhuanet.

com/Image edited by Rappler

Responding to these criticisms, the Chinese embassy said: “China's sovereignty over Nansha (Spratly) Islands and their adjacent waters were formed over a long period of 2,000-plus years. China always maintains that the South China Sea dispute should be solved through bilateral negotiation and consultation between countries directly-concerned based on respect for historical facts and international law.”

China, after all, consistently rejects third-party involvement in South China Sea disputes, and stresses the need for one-on-one talks with the countries involved.

The Philippines, for its part, denounced the 10-dash line map as a display of China's “ambitious expansionism.”

The map, however, will not affect the historic case filed by Manila against Beijing over the South China Sea, the Philippines' Department of Foreign Affairs said.

Map has 'no legal impact'

China, to begin with, has not officially “communicated” this 10-dash line to the international community, maritime law expert Jay Batongbacal told Rappler.

When asked if China's 10-dash line supersedes its 9-dash line, Batongbacal said: “In the sense that it's a new map that they're issuing, yes. But in terms of legal impact, as far as the international community is concerned, the only one that they have been given is the one that was issued in 2009, included in a note verbale.”

He referred to China's submission of a 9-dash line map to the United Nations in 2009.

“That is the one that has been officially communicated to the international community,” he said of this 2009 document, as he compared the 10-dash line map to a primer or brochure.

The Philippines and other countries have officially protested the 9-dash line. (READ: What's at stake in our case vs China)

He explained that the 10-dash line map “doesn't carry that much weight,” as the 10th dash near Taiwan even lies outside the South China Sea.

Palace Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr also dismissed China's 9- and 10-dash lines as mere “drawings.” – Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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