Date
26 March 2017
A Chinese Coast Guard ship is seen anchored at Luconia Shoals, about 150 kilometers north of Malaysian Borneo. Photo: johnib.wordpress.com
A Chinese Coast Guard ship is seen anchored at Luconia Shoals, about 150 kilometers north of Malaysian Borneo. Photo: johnib.wordpress.com

Malaysia toughens stance with Beijing over South China Sea

Malaysia will protest what it called the intrusion of a Chinese Coast Guard ship into its waters north of Borneo, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“This is not an area with overlapping claims,” National Security Minister Shahidan Kassim told the newspaper in an interview. “In this case, we’re taking diplomatic action.”

He said Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak will raise the issue directly with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Malaysia has generally taken a low-key approach in South China Sea disputes, in contrast to that of the Philippines and Vietnam, which have both railed against perceived Chinese expansionism in disputed areas.

The three Southeast Asian countries claim parts of the sea, as do Brunei, Taiwan and China.

Last week, Kassim posted pictures on his personal Facebook page of what he said showed a Chinese law-enforcement ship anchored at Luconia Shoals, an area of islets and reefs about 150 kilometers north of Malaysian Borneo—well inside the approximately 400-kilometer exclusive economic zone claimed by Malaysia.

The shoals are about 2,000 kilometers from mainland China.

Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesmen Hong Lei said Monday he was unfamiliar with Malaysia’s claim that a Chinese ship was anchored at Luconia Shoals.

China claims about 90 percent of the South China Sea. Luconia Shoals lie near the southern extreme of the so-called Nine-Dash Line, which China uses to demarcate its territorial claim.

The Luconia Shoals are “rich in oil and natural gas”, Kassim said in his Facebook post.

Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein sounded the alarm over the worsening South China Sea disputes at the Shangri-La Dialogue security summit in Singapore last month, warning that “if we are not careful, it could certainly escalate into one of the deadliest conflicts of our time, if not our history”.

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RA/CG

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