Malaysia rebukes Beijing as South China Sea ‘lawfare’ heats up

Malaysia rebukes Beijing as South China Sea ‘lawfare’ heats up

  • Unusually strong statement by Malaysia takes issue with Beijing for claiming it had no right to seek establishment of continental shelf in northern waters
  • Move reflects Malaysia’s rejection of China’s ‘nine-dash line’

A battle of diplomatic notes to the United Nations between claimants in the South China Sea dispute has taken a fresh turn, with Malaysia rebuking China for claiming Kuala Lumpur had no right to seek the establishment of its continental shelf in the northern part of the waters.

Instead, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s government, in a note verbale to the world body dated July 29, stressed that its application was fully within its rights under the UN Convention for the Law of the Sea (Unclos).

The unusually strong statement, seen by This Week in Asia on Thursday, said Malaysia rejected “in its entirety the contents” of an earlier note by Beijing on December 12.

The Chinese note had itself been a response to a Malaysian submission to an Unclos body stating that there were areas of potential overlapping claims in the areas where it was seeking to delimit its territory. China at the time had said the Malaysian submission “seriously infringed China’s sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction in the South China Sea”.

In its latest response, Malaysia said it rejected “China’s claims to historic rights, or other sovereign rights or jurisdiction, with respect to the maritime areas of the South China Sea encompassed by the relevant part of the ‘nine-dash line’.”