The map clearly shows contested clusters of islands in the body of water partially claimed by several countries -- the Parcel Islands and the Spratly Islands -- within a series of ten dashes, indicating Chinese control.
The new map signifies an act of boldness on the part of the Chinese government; maps in the past generally put the South China Sea in an inset, with explanatory text indicating the conflicting claims.
The tenth dash in the tongue-shaped demarcation is one more than on a map from the 1940s, which is the basis for China's claim. The line has been traditionally known as the "cow's tongue" and the "nine dashes."
The map does not include any reference to China's attempt, with bulldozers and sand, to enlarge the Spratlys into more significant islands. The Philippines has twice filed formal complaints with China's attempt to expand the islands, and Vietnam and the United States have denounced the action.