BEIJING, June 25 China has unveiled a new
official map of the country giving greater play to its claims on
the South China Sea, state media said on Wednesday, making the
disputed waters and its numerous islets and reefs more clearly
seem like national territory.
Previous maps published by the government already include
China's claims to most of the South China Sea, but in a little
box normally in a bottom corner to enable the rest of the
country to fit on the map.
The new, longer map dispenses with the box, and shows
continental China along with its self-declared sea boundary in
the South China Sea - stretching right down to the coasts of
Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines - on one complete map.
"The islands of the South China Sea on the traditional map
of China are shown in a cut-away box, and readers cannot fully,
directly know the full map of China," the ruling Communist
Party's official People's Daily said on its website.
Old maps make the South China Sea's islands appear more like
an appendage rather than an integral part of the country, which
the new map makes "obvious with a single glance", the report
"This vertical map of China has important meaning for
promoting citizens' better understanding of ... maintaining
(our) maritime rights and territorial integrity," an unnamed
official with the map's publishers told the newspaper.
China's foreign ministry said people should not read too
much into the issuing of the new map.
"The goal is to serve the Chinese public. As for the
intentions, I think there is no need to make too much of any
association here," ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a
daily news briefing.
"China's position on the South China Sea issue is consistent
and extremely clear. Our stance has not changed."
Beijing claims about 90 percent of the South China Sea, but
parts of the potentially energy-rich waters are also subject to
claims by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.
Tensions have risen sharply in the region in recent months,
especially between China and both Vietnam and the Philippines.
China's positioning of an oil rig in waters claimed by both
Beijing and Hanoi last month has lead to rammings at sea between
ships from both countries and anti-Chinese violence in Vietnam.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Ron