A Washington-based think tank has claimed that China is not only attempting to change facts on the ground in the South China Sea, but is also seeking to gradually change the world’s mind regarding its claims there.
Nguyen Thuy Anh, who is a research fellow at the East Sea Institute of Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam, has said in a report published in Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative: "The nine-dash line is a representation of China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea. The line itself is a collection of arbitrary dashes or dots without specific coordinates."
According to the report, this claim has been openly rejected by Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, and the United States, and has been criticized by numerous international scholars.
"More importantly, the claim to historic waters within the line was rejected by the arbitral award of the South China Sea tribunal in July 2016. But China has disregarded the ruling and insists on the nine-dash line claim," she wrote.
Before 2009, the nine-dash line appeared in scientific articles only rarely. But the number of articles illustrated with the line has drastically and steadily increased since 2010.
The report further said: "Though having no impact on the legal nature of the claim, the widespread publication of such maps could prompt misperceptions among scientists, researchers, or students who are readers of these journals but are not familiar with the issue."
"More dangerously, at some point policymakers in Beijing may mistake such publications as some form of popular recognition of its erroneous claim. Such a misconception could lead to a serious miscalculation," she said.