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South China Sea FAQ 5: What is the Nine-Dash, or Dotted, Line?


06-14-2016 12:26 BJT

Full coverage: South China Sea Is Indisputable Part of China

The Dotted or 9-Dash Line is the corner stone of China’s sovereignty claims. The South China Sea is a semi-enclosed sea, connecting the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

It's dotted with numerous island features which fall into four island groups, namely, the Nansha Islands, the Xisha Islands, in the west; the Dongsha Islands,in the northeast; and the Zhongsha Islands, east of the Xishas.

With a number of countries bordering each other, it’s not surprising that disputes would arise. And the disputes have been further complicated by the UN Convention, with its 200-nautical mile zone, resulting in overlapping claims.

The 9-Dash Line delimits the ownership of both the features and historic waters. It indicates China’s claims of sovereignty of all the islands and reefs within the line, and China’s historical rights in fishing, navigation and exploitation.

For a long time, the country has been keeping a low profile about what the 9-Dash Line means, so as to avoid conflicts and to resolve the disputes through negotiation.

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