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From the Voice of America:
China Launches Propaganda for Recognition of Disputed Maritime
27 July 2020
TAIPEI, TAIWAN - Chinese scholars have had scores of reports
published in internationally recognized scientific journals
containing a mention of their country's 'nine-dash line,' the
core of its claim to the hotly contested South China Sea, an
American research institution said this month.
China is using the journal pieces to promote its claimed
demarcation line, Vietnamese scholar Nguyen Thuy Anh wrote in a
July 15 article for the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative
under the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Journal articles are just China's latest effort to publicize its
nine-dash line for a wide global audience in hopes that the
constant reminders will legitimize its claim over the claims of
other countries, analysts say.
Maps, globes, postcards, T-shirts, video games and at least one
blockbuster film influenced by China refer to the line as well.
China has churned out those items for at least 10 years.
"If you do slap a nine-dash line on say DreamWorks movies that
get localized and distributed around the world, it does I think
send a subtle message that (the) default world view should be
that the nine-dash line is real and legitimate," initiative
director Gregory Poling said.
Nguyen, a research fellow at the East Sea Institute of the
Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam, found 260 articles using the
nine-dash line in 20 "prominent" scientific journals owned by
various publishers, her report says.
China vies for maritime sovereignty in the South China Sea with
Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. At stake
is a shared 3.5 million-square-kilometer sea valued for
fisheries, energy reserves and commercial shipping lanes.
Beijing claims about 90% of the waterway and has angered weaker
neighbors over the past decade by landfilling tiny islets in the
sea for military, economic and scientific use.
China refers to the nine-dash line to back its sovereignty claim.
The line, literally composed of nine thick dashes, swings south
from the Chinese mainland, across waters east of Vietnam, near
the north coast of Borneo, and back along the Philippine island
of Palawan toward Taiwan. The thickness of lines plus the spaces
between them make China's actual claims vague, analysts have
Propaganda and constant reminder
Chinese officials as well as private firms show the nine-dash
line in passports, books, online games and tourist brochures,
Nguyen said in her report.
In cinema, the most internationally memorable example was a scene
from "Abominable," an animated movie made by China-based Pearl
Studio and America's DreamWorks Animation. The film was banned in
Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam last year because of the
Vietnamese officials in 2018 denounced the arrival of 14 Chinese
tourists who flew into the Southeast Asian country wearing
T-shirts showing the disputed line. Five years earlier Philippine
booksellers quit selling made-in-China globes showing the Chinese
The government in China, a major exporter of globes, last year
published a notice aimed at ensuring that any map-bearing
materials make the Chinese "position on territory clear to the
international community," state-controlled media outlet Global
Times online said.
China is aiming these materials at a "target audience" of Arab,
African, and other "third countries" rather than Western
consumers, Poling said. A student doing research in Africa, he
said, would see probably the nine-dash line on a globe and not
Few world consumers know what the line means, said Jay
Batongbacal, international maritime affairs professor at
University of the Philippines.
"Most of them don't notice it, because they're not really
familiar with South China Sea issues, meaning this goes over
their heads," Batongbacal said. "That's why China is doing this.
It's like a subtle propaganda effort, which they will use later
on to say the nine-dash line is well known to everybody because
it's in all these products and articles and whatnot."
China cites historical records to support its maritime claim. In
2016 a world arbitration court ruled against the claim's legal
basis in the South China Sea. Southeast Asian countries that
assert their maritime sovereignty, sometimes sparring with
Chinese vessels in the contested sea, normally rely on
370-kilometer-wide exclusive economic zones extending from their
People offshore and on are supposed to pay attention to the
nine-dash line merchandising, said Huang Kwei-bo, vice dean of
the international affairs college at National Chengchi University
in Taipei. The Chinese government regularly reminds citizens of
its achievements overseas to drum up support for the state and
ruling Communist Party.
"Its actions of this type actually have two points - one is to
approach the international community and promote that the PRC has
had the whole South China Sea forever, but another point of
course is for what amounts to domestic patriotic education,"
Image: Map of the "nine-dash line" ...