Friday, May 15, 2009

M'sia vs China dispute to be resolved via maritime laws: PM

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia will seek to resolve any territorial dispute with China by negotiations in accordance with international law, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said.

He said if procedures were followed, claims over disputed territories could be resolved.

“We can avoid it turning into major or complicated problem,” he told a press conference after attending the Public Service’s Labour Day gathering here Thursday.

He was asked about China’s warning to countries bordering the South China Sea, including Malaysia, over any attempt to claim the Spratly Islands.

The islands and parts of the South China Sea, said to have potential oil deposits, are claimed by Brunei, China, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

China has also objected to Malaysia’s move to extend its maritime boundary in the area.

It said the expansion, which is allowed under the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea, would result in encroachment into its sovereign territory.

Malaysia and Vietnam had on May 6 made a joint submission to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf to extend their territories over the portion of the South China Sea.

A copy of the joint submission is available on the Commission’s website.

The extension of territory beyond the original 200 nautical mile limit is allowed under Article 76 of the convention and countries had to lodge their submissions by Wednesday.

China’s permanent mission to the United Nations in New York sent a note to the United Nations the following day stating that the submission had infringed on its “sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction in the South China Sea.”

“The Chinese government seriously requests the Commission not to consider the joint submission by Malaysia and Vietnam,” the note, which is also available on the website, said.

A map which depicted China’s maritime border enclosing most of the South China Sea was attached to the note.

China also lodged an objection on the same day against Vietnam’s submission to extend its maritime border over a northern portion of the South China Sea where the Paracel Islands are located.

Vietnam replied to both objection by stating that it had sovereignty over the areas in question. There were no records of any reply from Malaysia.

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