Renaming The South China Sea To Southeast Asian Sea: A Step Towards Peace And Cooperation

ByAzleen Abdul Rahim

Before this, China wasn’t in the picture at all. Since they, out of nowhere came up with the nine-dash line, the South China Sea has since enter multi-countries tensions and conflicts on top of the present disputes happening many years ago laying claim to its waters and resources. China, in particular, has been assertive in its claims, causing significant friction with a number of Southeast Asian neighbouring countries such as Vietnam, the Philippines, and Malaysia.

In light of these ongoing disputes, I believe it is time for ASEAN to consider renaming the South China Sea to the Southeast Asian Sea as a potential solution to ease tensions and encourage cooperation in the region.

What is the nine-dash line? Here is the meaning of it according to Wikipedia.

The nine-dash line, at various times also referred to as the eleven-dash line by the Republic of China or PRC, is a set of line segments on various maps that indicate the territorial claims of the PRC in the South China Sea. The contested area in the South China Sea includes the Paracel Islands, the Spratly Islands (of which Taiping Island, the largest among them, is controlled by the ROC), and various other areas including Pratas Island and the Vereker Banks, the Macclesfield Bank, and the Scarborough Shoal. Certain places, known as the “Great Wall of Sand”, have undergone land reclamation efforts by various states that claim the area, including the PRC, ROC, and Vietnam. The People’s Daily of the PRC uses the term 断续线 or 南海断续线 (literally South Sea intermittent line), while the ROC-Taiwanese government uses the term 十一段線 (literally eleven-segment line).

It might help to minimise China’s aggressive maritime act

The current name, the South China Sea, inherently favours China’s territorial claims and strengthens its position in international discourse. By renaming it the Southeast Asian Sea, we can shift the focus away from China’s exclusive dominance and emphasise the shared heritage and interests of the countries surrounding the region. This change would promote a more inclusive and collaborative approach, fostering an environment conducive to dialogue and resolution of conflicting claims.

Renaming the South China Sea as the Southeast Asian Sea would also send a powerful diplomatic signal to China. It would demonstrate that the international community recognises the concerns of other countries in the region and their legitimate claims to the waters. By removing China’s name from the sea, we can help diffuse the perception that China has unilateral control over the area, which could encourage a more cooperative mindset from the Chinese government.

Furthermore, renaming the sea would have symbolic value and enhance the region’s collective identity. Southeast Asia is a diverse and vibrant region with a rich cultural heritage and shared history. By giving the sea a name that reflects the collective interests and aspirations of Southeast Asian nations, it would strengthen their sense of unity and solidarity. This could serve as a catalyst for regional integration and cooperation in various areas beyond maritime disputes.

The complex territorial dispute is beyond just renaming the sea

Of course, renaming the South China Sea is not a panacea for the complex territorial disputes in the region. It is merely a symbolic step towards fostering a more peaceful and cooperative environment. The underlying issues and conflicting claims will still need to be addressed through diplomatic negotiations and legal mechanisms. However, a name change can create a more conducive atmosphere for these discussions and encourage all parties to approach the issue with greater openness and flexibility.

Opponents of this idea may argue that renaming the sea would be an empty gesture with little practical impact on the ongoing disputes. While it is true that changing the name alone will not resolve the territorial claims, it can be seen as a gesture of goodwill and an invitation to dialogue. It can signal a willingness to move beyond entrenched positions and work towards a mutually beneficial solution.

Bottom line

Think about it, renaming the South China Sea to the Southeast Asian Sea is a small yet significant step towards reducing tensions and promoting cooperation in the region. It would help shift the focus from China’s exclusive claims and encourage a more inclusive approach to resolving complex territorial disputes. By recognising the shared interests and aspirations of Southeast Asian nations, we can foster an environment of dialogue and collaboration that may eventually lead to a peaceful resolution of the conflicts in the region.

Your call ASEAN.

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