U.S. Admiral Says China’s 9-Dash Line Not Valid


MANILA, Philippines—China’s so-called nine-dash line, which encompasses around 90 percent of the South China Sea, including Philippine territories, has even the commander of the United States Navy baffled.

“I don’t understand (its) foundation. It’s almost like I woke up one day and somebody said, ‘so what is that, that’s the nine-dash line…I (ask) what’s the nine-dash line and that’s about all that it is, a nine-dash line,” said Adm. Jonathan Greenert, the U.S. Chief of Naval Operations, in a forum last week at the National Defense College of the Philippines.

Greenert was in the country on a four-day official visit, which included a meeting with Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Philippine military officials.

Greenert said China’s U-shaped nine-dash line on its ancient maps that claims most of the South China Sea—a major international shipping route—was not based on any international laws or agreements.

He echoed the Feb. 5 statement of Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Danny Russel to the U.S. House committee on foreign affairs that China’s nine-dash line was not based on international law.

It was the strongest statement yet the U.S. had made against the controversial Chinese claim.

“We look at it and, fine, that is interesting,” said Greenert.

“It doesn’t appear to have a relevant foundation that we describe geography, international agreements, international norms, international policy that we can base it on. So we just look at it with a sort of interest right now,” Greenert said.

At the forum, Greenert also said the U.S. would help the Philippines, as provided for under treaties between the two countries, should China forcibly take over the island of Pagasa in the Kalayaan island group.

Back to Top