TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Malaysia summoned the Chinese ambassador to Kuala Lumpur on Monday (Oct. 4), lodging a protest over what it claims were incursions into its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) by Chinese vessels, according to reports.
The Malaysian foreign ministry said the vessels included at least one survey boat, but the government did not specify the timing of the intrusion in its official statement. The vessels were detected off the coast of its Bornean states of Sabah and Sarawak in the eastern part of the country.
The actions by the Chinese were in contravention of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, according to the ministry. “Malaysia’s consistent position and actions are based on international law, in defense of our sovereignty and sovereign rights in our waters,” the government said in a statement, per Nikkei.
China’s foreign ministry has so far yet to comment on the matter. Last year, a standoff between a Chinese survey vessel and a boat from Malaysia’s state-owned energy company, Petrobas, occurred in Malaysia’s EEZ, according to Reuters.
More recently, in June this year, Malaysia scrambled fighter jets after 16 planes from China’s air force appeared over South China Sea waters claimed by both countries, per the Straits Times. The Chinese side said the planes were performing “routine training.”
While ties between Malaysia and China are generally warm, Beijing claims nearly the entire South China Sea under its “nine-dash line,” which has led to maritime disputes with Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Brunei, in addition to Malaysia.
In 2016, an international court at The Hague ruled China’s claims over the sprawling maritime domain to be without merit, a ruling Beijing has challenged and ignored as it continues to militarize artificial islands and other features in the sea.