Protests Against China’s Map: India, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia

Protests Against China's Map: India, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia

After India, Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia protest China’s map

Context 

On Thursday, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia each issued a statement expressing their disagreement with China’s proposed “standard map” for 2023, which has also sparked a fervent response from India.

What does China’s New Standard Map portray?

  • Territorial Claims: China’s territorial claims over contested areas, such as Arunachal Pradesh and the Aksai Chin region, are reiterated by the map. This implies that despite persistent conflicts with India, China continues to claim its authority over these regions.
  • South China Sea Claims: China’s sweeping claims to the whole South China Sea are highlighted by the inclusion of the “Nine-Dash Line” on the map. As various nations in the area, including the Philippines and Vietnam, have rival territorial claims in the South China Sea, this is a hotly contested topic. China’s map essentially affirms its hegemony in this important maritime region.
  • Taiwan Claim: A tenth dashed line on the map highlights China’s claims to Taiwan. This is a provocative action because Taiwan is a democratic, self-governing island that China regards as being on its territory. China’s position on Taiwan’s status is reflected in it.
  • Name Standardization: China’s practice of standardizing place names in contentious areas like Arunachal Pradesh is an intentional effort on its part to reassert its control and authority over these territories. China frequently renames locations to support its claims.
  • Emphasis on Map Awareness: The release of the map during “National Mapping Awareness Publicity Week” emphasizes China’s dedication to precise and uniform mapping. This demonstrates how crucial mapping and cartography are to China’s geopolitical goals.
  • Implications for Diplomacy and the Region: China’s distribution of this map may cause diplomatic problems and strained ties with its neighbours, including Malaysia, the Philippines, India, and Malaysia. As nations in the Indo-Pacific region react to China’s territorial aggression, it could also have an impact on regional dynamics.
  • Geopolitical Signaling: China’s actions in making this map public can be considered as a part of their larger geopolitical plan. It underlines its willingness to challenge the status quo in numerous contentious territories and indicates a more proactive approach to territorial disputes.

What are the border dispute points between India and China?

  • Aksai Chin: Aksai Chin is an area that India claims, but China administers. It is situated in the western part of the boundary. Due to its proximity to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), this area is of strategic importance.
  • Arunachal Pradesh (South Tibet): China claims the entirety of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh in the eastern part and refers to it as “South Tibet.” This area is governed by India, which regards it as an essential component of its territory.
  •  Line of Demarcation: Throughout the border, particularly in some parts, there is no mutually agreed-upon Line of Actual Control (LAC). After the Sino-Indian War of 1962, the LAC was created, and it has since become a source of contention and occasional conflict.

What effects will the new standard map have?

  • Diplomatic Tensions: Tensions in diplomacy may arise as a result of China’s use of maps to assert its authority over disputed territories. Affected nations may complain diplomatically and restate their claims in response, which might sour bilateral ties.
  • Impact on Bilateral Relations: China’s relations with the impacted nations may be strained as a result of the release of these maps. Cooperation in several sectors, including trade, investment, and interpersonal interactions, may be impacted as a result.
  • Regional Power Balance: The border disputes and territorial claims have an impact on the overall regional power structure. To offset China’s influence, it can have an impact on how strategically aligned a nation is with other countries and regional organizations.
  • Territorial Assertion: China is reiterating its territorial claims by including disputed areas on its official map. This might intensify current conflicts and raise tensions with nearby nations.
  • Legal and International Reaction: The publication of these maps may encourage the affected nations to bring up the subject in international foram to get support for their stance. Discussions about adherence to international standards and guidelines for territorial integrity and conflict resolution may also result from this.
  • Geopolitical Signaling: One way that maps are used in geopolitics is through signalling. As part of a larger geopolitical strategy, China’s actions in distributing these maps can be regarded as suggesting a more forceful posture on territorial disputes and regional dominance.