China’s infamous “9 dash line” map

November 26, 2012

In 2009, China submitted a map to the United Nations claiming sovereignty over virtually the entire South China Sea, ignoring legitimate claims well within the rights of other nations bordering the sea.  In essence, China seeks to turn the major international shipping region into a virtual internal lake.

Every other nation in the region immediately protested the Chinese submission, but China has been using a version of the map in official claims ever since.  Last week, they raised the stakes even further, issuing a new official passport that prominently features the “9 dash line” map.  As Reuters notes, this puts neighboring countries in a very difficult position – they will be forced to stamp the passports of Chinese visitors, which China could someday claim gives official recognition by those governments of Chinese claims.

In the map below, you can see the contrast between the Chinese claim (yellow line) and what a negotiated line based on the 200 mile limit (the purple shape in the middle) could look like.

The US backs the smaller nations in this dispute . . . but whether we will have the resources to do anything about it when it comes to a head remains to be seen.



  1. […] their waters.   This is the “first island chain” strategy, outlined in the infamous “nine-dash line” map.  China first seeks to achieve hegemony within the waters bounded by the first chain of islands […]

  2. […] This has been used on official maps of this region since then, such as one that was published and submitted to the United Nations in 2009. This line shows China’s territorial waters extending right up […]

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