Econintersect: Indonesia has joined Vietnam and the Philippines in official protest of China’s claim to most of the area of the South China Sea and many of the islands therein. In November of last year both the Philippines and Vietnam protested the inclusion in China passports of a map showing almost all of the South China Sea within its national borders. The map (shown below) indicates a claim extending over 800 miles from the nearest occupied Chinese land (Hainan Island) and nearly 1,000 miles from the nearest point on the Chinese mainland (Luichow Peninsula). Such a claim by the United States would bring the Bermuda Islands, about 700 miles east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, within the “territorial waters” of the country.
Indonesia also protested to China about the passport map last year but has only now revealed that, according to an article in the Financial Times. Statements quoted in the FT indicate that Indonesia proceeded with their complaint in a discreet manner using “quiet diplomacy” according to Evi Fitriani, head of the international relations department at the University of Indonesia. The reason for the low key approach is the desire of Indonesia to maintain their developing economic ties with China. But there may be difficulties with that approach. From the FT:
Ristian Atriandi Supriyanto, a maritime security analyst at S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, said that Indonesia is reluctant to increase tensions with China for fear of inflaming public opinion and risking a damaging economic backlash from Beijing.
But he argued that, as China’s navy continues to grow at a much faster rate than Indonesia’s already inferior maritime forces, there is “an increasing risk that Indonesia will be drawn into the fray.”
Indonesia does have serious economic concerns because the Chinese line dissects the Natuna Sea where Indonesia is developing natural gas production in collaboration with Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM), Total (NYSE:TOT) and other international energy companies.
Energy resources are one of the key concerns, along with ownership of rich fisheries, for concerns of other countries in the region. In addition to Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia, the Chinese boundary claim comes very close to the shores of Malaysia and Brunei.
China also has a far-offshore claims in the East China Sea and that has led to an ongoing dispute with Japan over islands east-northeast of Taiwan (which also claims the islands).
See articles listed in Sources for previous GEI News coverage of the China off-shore boundary claims and related international disagreements.
Click on map for larger image.
The claims of China to most of the water and islands in the South China Sea are not new. A 1947 map (“11-dotted-line-map”) covers the same area as the 21st century map.
Click on map for larger image.
- Philippines, Vietnam protest map in China passport (Oliver Teves, Associated Press, The Jakarta Post, 23 November 2012)
- Indonesia objected to Chinese passport move (Lionel Barber, David Pilling and Ben Bland, Financial Times, 29 March 2013)
- World Eyes on Small Islands in the East China Sea (EconMatters, GEI News, 16 October 2012)
- Japanese Car Manufacturers Cut Chinese Production in Half (GEI News, 08 October 2012)
- Japan Feuds with Neighbors over Islands (GEI News, 20 August 2012)
- Maps from Wikipedia.