On Aug. 6, a tweet claimed the Chinese government had “just” published its latest map showing the contested areas of the South China Sea, Taiwan, Aksai Chin, South Tibet and disputed islands such as the Diaoyu/Senkaku as part of the People’s Republic of China.
The screenshot of this map with the so-called 10-dash line (also known as the nine-dash line) was also included in another tweet.
The “dash line” refers to a set of ten (or sometimes nine) lines on a map that encircles the area in the ocean that China claims to be its territory, including Taiwan and many other disputed islands.
Together, these tweets have received almost 2,200 likes as of this writing. The map is not new, however.
The version of the Chinese map posted on Twitter has the label “GS(2019) 1818” in the lower left-hand corner, indicating that it was approved in 2019 by the Ministry of Natural Resources. The same map is also available on the Ministry’s standard map service website.
This 2019 map seems to be based on an earlier version created in 2013, which was a new design meant to “build up territorial awareness” about China’s claims in the South China Sea, according to a CNTV report in 2014.
But it was not the first time the nine or ten dotted lines appeared on a Chinese map. In fact, the lines go back for decades, even before the Communist Party founded the People’s Republic of China in 1949.
Historically, maps of the South China Sea have always been the topic of increasing territorial tension.
Many countries including Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia and Brunei, as well as Taiwan, claim certain areas of the sea as their own.
The misleading tweet also implies Aksai Chin and South Tibet are a new amendment to the map, but it is not.
China claims Aksai Chin is part of the Xinjiang region while India says it belongs to the Ladakh region. China reportedly published a map including the Aksai Chin plateau on its western border in 1958, and since then skirmishes between India and China broke out occasionally over the territorial claims.
While Tibet is an autonomous region of China, about 90,000 square kilometers of the southeast region, which China claims to be South Tibet, is also in dispute. India controls the area and calls it part of the Arunachal Pradesh state.