China is being observed to be shifting its “nine-dash line” theory to a new legal theory to bolster its claim over the South China Sea. This shift could prove to be fatal for India’s interest in the area. This shift has been observed by the member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and has said that this claim is even more dangerous than the previous one. Saifuddin Abdullah, Malaysian Foreign Minister while talking to the local news reporters has claimed that China is shifting its legal theory from “nine-dash line” to “four sha”. Abdullah has claimed that China has stopped talking about the nine-dash nine theory and speaks more of the “four sha”.
The Four Sha are the four island groups in the South China Sea region. This is the region over which Beijing has claimed its historical rights. The Chinese call these regions Qundao, Xisha Qundao, Zhongsha Qundao, and Nansha Qundao. The nine-dash line is the boundary used by China to show the demarcation and its historical claim on the South China Sea.
Internationally these are identified with the name of the Partas Island or the Paracel Island. This change in shifting the parameters in the region creates qualms regarding India’s trade, which happens through the region. It also cast a shadow on India’s energy interest in Vietnam.
While answering the questions asked about expanding the boundaries, Zhao Lijian, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, said, “I haven’t seen his remarks. China’s position on the South China Sea issue is consistent and clear, and there has been no change.”
All the legal matters that are related to the oceans and the sea are controlled by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. China signed the convention in 1982, and the crisis emerged when China refused to follow the rulings of the arbitration cases that were followed by the Philippines under the UNCLOS convention. In this case, China argued that the Philippines had violated the bilateral agreement and gave three reasons why it didn’t implement the ruling.
As China has militarized Parcel Island, Spratly Island, and other islands, the US Navy Carrier Strike Groups Carl Vinson and Abraham Lincoln entered the South China Sea on Sunday. There has been a massive deployment of the US in the South China Sea. Chinese authorities and officials have been claiming that these are rumors created by some other forces. China is trying its best to escape the criticism that has been followed by the “nine-dash line” policy with the “four sha”.
This looks quite scary for the Indian territories, as India and China have some disputed boundaries. This would affect the Indian trade with the other surrounding countries. China has tried to occupy the areas near the boundaries that demarcate India from China. Many conflicts have been seen between the two countries in the past and could prove to cause serious damage this time as well.