Malaysia is prepared to negotiate with China over a dispute between them in the South China Sea, Bernama reported on Monday, citing Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
As we are all aware, China claims virtually all of the 3.5 million sq. km of the waters of the South China Sea. Other claimants include Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei and the Philippines, while Indonesia is an affected party through China’s blatant and frequent incursions.
“China is also staking claim over the area. I said as a small country that needs oil and gas resources, we have to continue, but if the condition is that there must be negotiations, then we are ready to negotiate,” he said.
Malaysia’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is determined by Article 57 of Part V of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) that was adopted in 1982. A total of 167 countries and the European Union are parties, and that includes China.
Article 57 states that the breadth of the EEZ shall not exceed 200 nautical miles from the baselines that have been used to measure a country’s territorial waters. Our waters are very definitely more than 200 nautical miles from China’s baseline shores, in case the government, especially the Ministry of Foreign Affairs whose advice the PM depends on, doesn’t know about our EEZ.
And only Malaysia has the sovereign right to explore and exploit, conserve and manage all the natural resources within its EEZ. Not any other country. Therefore by negotiating, are we not giving clout to China’s delusional nine-dash line?
Furthermore, there is a Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling made in the Philippines v China case in 2016 that has ruled against the latter’s claim over maritime areas within the nine-dash line. The Court ruled that China not only has China exceeded what is entitled under UNCLOS, but that China, among others, has no legal basis to claim rights to resources within the nine-dash line.
It is puzzling that the government does not know this, or has forgotten about it. I am surprised that it has also forgotten that the previous Pakatan Harapan administration in 2019 filed a formal submission to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, detailing information on the limits of its continental shelf, beyond its 200-nautical-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). China, as always, rejected Malaysia’s claim and asserted its sovereignty and rights in the South China Sea with vague and ambiguous arguments.
If China cannot respect our rights given to us through legal means, why should we even care about what they think of our waters? Or are we so hard up for them to turn the billions in MOUs from the PM’s recent visit there into contracts?
If that is the case, are we not selling off our sovereignty like during Najjb’s administration?
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