Malaysian foreign minister sees shift in Beijing’s justification of South China Sea claims

Kuala Lumpur [Malaysia] (ANI): Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah says Beijing now speaks less of the ‘nine-dash line’ and more often of the ‘Four Sha’ and expressed doubts on China’s changing claims in the strategic South-China Sea.
China appears to be shifting from the so-called “nine-dash line” toward a new legal theory to support its expansive claims in the South China Sea, although analysts say its alternative is also problematic under international law as outlined by Malaysian Foreign minister Saifuddin Abdullah, according to Radio Free Asia. Abdullah said the shift toward has been witnessed by member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and “is even more serious” than the old claim.
“Four Sha,” or Four Sands Archipelagos, are the four island groups in the South China Sea that Beijing claims to hold “historical rights” to.
Beijing calls them “Dongsha Qundao,” “Xisha Qundao,” “Zhongsha Qundao,” and “Nansha Qundao.” Internationally, they are known as Pratas Islands, Paracel Islands, the Macclesfield Bank area and Spratly Islands.
The concept they may be eclipsed, the nine-dash line, is a U-shaped line encircling most of the South China Sea that China has been using to demarcate its sovereignty over the sea, according to Radio Free Asia.
Earlier, an international tribunal in 2016 invalidated the Beijing claim’s in the nine-dash line saying China has no legal basis for it. Although Beijing rejected the ruling, other nations have endorsed it.
On the other hand, US State Department report on China’s South China Sea claims that was published this month, ‘Limits in the Seas’, does not mention Four Sha concept as proclaimed by Beijing.
Meanwhile, Malaysia is among the ASEAN nations’ whose territorial claims overlap with China’s in the South China Sea. The others are Brunei, the Philippines and Vietnam. While Indonesia does not regard itself as party to the South China Sea dispute, Beijing does claim historic rights to areas overlapping Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone.

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