We’re not afraid despite protest by China, Saifuddin says over South China Sea claim

China claims most of South China Sea and was unhappy that Malaysia had also filed a stake with the UN. (Reuters pic)

PUTRAJAYA: The government said today it was “not afraid” of pursuing its continental shelf claims in the northern part of the disputed South China Sea, despite protests from Beijing.

Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said Putrajaya would continue to argue its case on the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) at the United Nations.

“If we were afraid, we wouldn’t stake our claim. We expected objections from China as it is normal,” he told reporters today.

Last month, China protested that Malaysia had filed the submission in the UN, saying Putrajaya’s submission had “seriously infringed on China’s sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction in the South China Sea”.

Under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, any country can claim an exclusive economic zone of up to 200 nautical miles from its shoreline.

China, however, claims most of the South China Sea, through which more than US$3.4 trillion (RM13.95 trillion) worth of goods are transported every year.

Malaysia, in its submission dated Dec 12, said there were areas of potential overlapping claims.

Saifuddin said Malaysia will remain “consistent” in staking its rights, but will do so diplomatically.

He also said he was not worried about any repercussions from China, including an increase in tariffs.