[Brussels] – A number of Belgian newspapers today reported a story about the discovery of a number of ancient maps that could offer support for several of China’s territorial claims in South East Asian and other parts of the globe.
The maps in question were discovered in the library of Arenberg Château, a 16th century castle now belonging to the Catholic University of Leuven. The maps themselves date from the late 13th century up to the late 17th century, and include world maps, and maps of several regions of the globe, mainly European and South East Asian. Most of them were made by European and Chinese geographers at various times in history, and were collected by the Croÿ family, owners of the castle during most of the 15th to 17th century.
Importantly, the maps offer a unique view of national borders throughout history. A committe of historians, who have had a chance to review the maps briefly earlier this week, claim that several of the maps might represent important evidence supporting China’s territorial claims in South East Asia. One historian reported how several maps contain “clear indications of national borders during the early 19th century”, which “strongly support China’s claim over several small island groups currently under dispute between China and its neighbors.”
A more shocking discovery was that the maps support China’s sovereignty over a number of smaller territories in Europe, including a few small Mediteranean islands and even a small neighborhood in Brussels itself.
A local government official in Brussels, who wished to remain anonymous, commented that “the validity of the Brussels map and any Chinese claims in this region are neglectable”. According to our source, “China has never claimed the neighborhood in question and is unlikely to do so in the near future.” Nevertheless, there is a slight reason for concern, he added, “in view of China’s recent aggressive foreign policy.”
Early next week a small panel of Chinese historians and politicians are planning an official visit to Arenberg Château for examination of the maps.