Beijing's nine-dash line 'not recognised by KL'

Malaysia's Foreign Minister Anifah Aman speaking to the media after the foreign ministers' meeting at the 26th ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysia's Foreign Minister Anifah Aman speaking to the media after the foreign ministers' meeting at the 26th ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur. PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR • China and Malaysia do not have overlapping territorial claims in the South China Sea, as Kuala Lumpur does not acknowledge Beijing's so-called nine-dash line, Malaysia's Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said yesterday.

He said that, like other Asean nations who are claimants to parts of the South China Sea, Kuala Lumpur sees the nine-dash line as not being in accordance with international laws, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

"Malaysia is also of the stand that there does not exist any overlapping claims or territorial disputes between Malaysia and China on the South China Sea," he said, according to The Malay Mail Online (MMO) news site.

Additionally, Malaysia's stand is that "all geographical aspects or maritime features which are within Malaysia's maritime jurisdiction belong to Malaysia", Datuk Seri Anifah added.

He was speaking in the Malaysian Parliament in response to a question by an opposition Member of Parliament, who had asked about the government's stand on the territorial spat.

Beijing uses the controversial nine-dash line to claim more than 90 per cent of the energy-rich South China Sea, including islands and waters off Malaysia's Sarawak state.

Malaysia's stand is that "all geographical aspects or maritime features which are within Malaysia's maritime jurisdiction belong to Malaysia", Datuk Seri Anifah said.

Mr Anifah's emphatic stance comes at a time when Kuala Lumpur-Beijing ties are getting cosier, with billions of dollars worth of projects in Malaysia being backed by China.

Malaysia in the past two years had claimed encroachment into its waters off Sarawak by Chinese coast guard ships and fishing boats.

In June 2015, Cabinet minister Shahidan Kassim, who oversees Malaysia's Maritime Enforcement Agency, posted pictures on his Facebook page of a Chinese coast guard ship which he said was anchored at Malaysia's Luconia Shoals.

Apart from Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims to parts of the sea.

Mr Anifah said that the current presence of the Chinese military does not involve Malaysia's maritime areas. "Therefore, to my understanding, this does not have a direct impact on the (national) interest and national security," he said, according to MMO.

"However, China's actions can potentially increase regional tensions and change the geopolitical dynamics in the South China Sea."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 21, 2017, with the headline 'Beijing's nine-dash line 'not recognised by KL''. Print Edition | Subscribe