Despite international law and an arbitral ruling, China continues to claim that it owns the West Philippine Sea (WPS) after releasing the 2023 edition of its standard map, which includes parts of the Philippines and other Asian countries as its territory.
The map, released by China's Ministry of Natural Resources, features a 10-dash line—a line that supposedly signifies the scope of its territory—that claims the entirety of the South China Sea.
The 10-dash line basically overlaps with the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Philippines, where the West Philippine Sea is located, as well as the EEZs of Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and Indonesia.
The Philippine government has not released its comment as of this writing.
According to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), a country's EEZ generally extends to 200 nautical miles from its shore, within which the coastal state has the right to explore and exploit, and the responsibility to conserve and manage, both living and non-living resources.
Basing on the apparent inclusion of several WPS features in the 10-dash line, China's latest map does not abide by UNCLOS.
The map also claims the self-governing island of Taiwan as part of China, as well as the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh and the Aksai Chin plateau, which are the subject of India's recent diplomatic protest.
The release of the map came at the heels of China's aggression in the South China Sea, including by deploying navy ships and harassing foreign personnel, including Filipinos, patrolling the vast ocean.
China Daily, an English-language newspaper owned by the Publicity Department of the Chinese Communist Party, reported that the latest edition of China's map was released during the celebration of Surveying and Mapping Publicity Day and the National Mapping Awareness Publicity Week.