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China’s ‘nine-dash line’ puts economic interest at risk: Indonesia

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    World Affairs
  • Published
    26th Oct, 2022


After the Chinese government said it has “overlapping claims” with Vietnam over maritime rights in parts of the East Sea, Indonesia rubbished the statement, rejected China’s offer for any negotiations and said that Jakarta’s economic interests are threatened by China’s Nine-Dash Line.

Origins of nine-dash line

  • China currently claims ‘indisputable sovereignty’ over the South China Sea.
  • The nine-dash line was originally an 11-dash line, and Chinese geographer Yang Huairen helped etch it.
    • Yang was born in 1917 and pursued his education in the UK before being employed by China’s Nationalist government.
    • In 1947, he worked on the map introducing the 11-dash line and 286 bits of rock and turf in the South China Sea.
    • In 1949, when the nationalist government lost to the Communists, and relocated to Taiwan, Yang stayed back.
    • However, he was eventually persecuted as an “anti-revolutionary academic authority” during the Cultural Revolution — a sociopolitical movement in China from 1966 to 1976 — for his role in the Kuomintang government.
  • But Yang’s conception of the U-shaped line would stay on.
  • In 1952, the 11-dash line became the nine-dash line when in a moment of Communist camaraderie with Vietnam, Mao gave up China’s claims over the Gulf of Tonkin.
  • The line runs as far as 2,000km from the Chinese mainland to within a few hundred kilometres of the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam.

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