The Russian Foreign Ministry has rejected China’s apparent claim of ownership over a disputed island that has been a source of tension between Moscow and Beijing for decades.
Earlier this week, the Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece Global Times newspaper published the “2023 edition of China’s standard map,” crediting the Ministry of Natural Resources.
The map touches on multiple territorial disputes, among them Bolshoi Ussuriysky Island, which sits at the confluence of the Ussuri and Amur rivers that separate Russia and China. The island is known as Heixiazi, or Black Bear, in Chinese.
On Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova dismissed any suggestion of reopening the territorial dispute, which she said had been settled by bilateral agreements more than 15 years ago.
“The Russian and Chinese sides adhere to the common position that the border issue between our countries has been finally resolved,” Zakharova said in a statement published on the Foreign Ministry website.
“Its settlement was marked by the ratification in 2005 of the Supplementary Agreement on the Russian-Chinese state border on its eastern part, according to which Bolshoi Ussuriysky Island was divided between the parties.”
“The delimitation and demarcation of our common border has been completed along its entire length (almost 4,300 km [2,670 miles]), including in 2008 on Bolshoi Ussuriysky Island.”
The island has been split between Russian and Chinese control per the bilateral agreements. But China’s newly published official map suggests it claims control of the entire 135-square-mile piece of land.
Zakharova, though, said the “resolution” of the dispute “was the result of many years of efforts by both sides, a reflection of the high level of relations between the two countries, made an important contribution to ensuring security and stability in the region, and is a successful example of resolving border disputes for all countries of the world.”
“Russia and China have repeatedly confirmed the absence of mutual territorial claims, and there is a corresponding provision in the Treaty on Good Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation of July 16, 2001,” the spokesperson added
“The parties have an extensive structure of interaction in the field of border cooperation, the Joint Border Commission is functioning effectively, within which all relevant issues are discussed.”
Newsweek has contacted the Chinese Foreign Ministry by email to request comment.
Beijing’s new map has created fresh tensions with several other neighbors. India, Malaysia, Taiwan, and the Philippines have all expressed opposition to the symbolic landgrab.
Chinese officials have been unapologetic. “A correct national map is a symbol of national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Li Yongchun, a senior resources ministry official, said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said publishing the map was “a routine practice in China’s exercise of sovereignty in accordance with the law.” Wang added: “We hope relevant sides can stay objective and calm, and refrain from overinterpreting the issue.”