Minister: No territorial disputes between Malaysia and China in South China Sea

Philippine soldier Tychico Octobre patrols a beach in Pagasa Island (Thitu Island) at the Spratly group of islands in the South China Sea, west of Palawan, on May 11, 2015. — AFP pic

KUALA LUMPUR, March 20 — China and Malaysia do not have overlapping territorial claims in the South China Sea, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said today.

Anifah said that Malaysia and other Asean nations, who are claimants to the territory also claimed by China, do not acknowledge the republic’s “nine-dash line” argument as it was not in accordance with international laws, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982.

“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.

“Malaysia is also of the stand that all geographical aspects or maritime features which are within Malaysia’s maritime jurisdiction belongs to Malaysia,” Anifah said.

He added that the presence of Chinese military in one of the world’s most important sea routes does not involve Malaysia’s maritime areas.

“Therefore, to my understanding, this does not give a direct impact to the (national) interest and national security.

“However, China’s actions can potentially increase regional tensions and change the geopolitical dynamics on South China Sea,” Anifah added.

He said that Putrajaya has continuously channelled special attention towards issues relating to the South China Sea, one of the world’s most resource-rich waters.

“I would like to stress that the government will never, ever compromise on matters which can affect the territory’s strength and national interest,” he added.

Anifah was responding to a question by DAP’s Stampin MP Julian Tan Kok Ping, who had asked him to state the government’s stand on the South China Sea territorial dispute which also includes Sarawak waters.

Tan asked for a detailed explanation on the existence of China-owned vessels which have docked in Sarawak’s waters without permission, demanding to know the status of the ships and how long such a case has existed.

China claims nearly all of the strategically vital sea, even waters approaching the coasts of the Philippines and other South-east Asian nations such as Brunei and Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Taiwan.

Manila filed a case with an international tribunal in The Hague in 2013 challenging China’s claims to its territory. China refused to participate in the hearings and vowed to ignore the verdict delivered in favour of Philippines that invalidated China’s claims.