China decries attempts to "read too much into" passport map row

BEIJING Wed Nov 28, 2012 5:12pm IST

1 of 2. A page from a Chinese passport displays a Chinese map which includes an area in the South China Sea inside a line of dashes representing maritime territory claimed by China, in Kunming, Yunnan province, November 23, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

Related Topics

BEIJING (Reuters) - China said on Wednesday that people should not read too much into the placement of a new map in its passports that depicts claims to disputed territory, after the United States said it would raise concerns with Beijing over the issue.

The Philippines and Vietnam have condemned the new microchip-equipped passports, saying the map they incorporate violates their national sovereignty by marking disputed waters as Chinese territory.

India, which also claims two Himalayan regions shown as Chinese territory on the map, is responding by issuing visas stamped with its own version of the borders.

"The aim of China's new electronic passports is to strengthen its technological abilities and make it convenient for Chinese citizens to enter or leave the country," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a daily news briefing.

"The issue of the maps in China's new passports should not be read too much into. China is willing to remain in touch with relevant countries and promote the healthy development of the exchange of people between China and the outside world."

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the United States had concerns about China's map causing "tension and anxiety" between countries in the South China Sea.

The United States, which has urged China and its neighbours to agree on a code of conduct as a first step toward reducing tension over the South China Sea, will accept the new Chinese passports as they meet the standards of a legal travel document.

The Philippines said later on Wednesday it was taking steps to avoid any possibility of being seen to legitimise China's claims in the South China Sea.

It said it would no longer stamp visas for visitors from China in their passports but would issue them on a separate form.

"This action is being undertaken to avoid the Philippines being misconstrued as legitimising the 9-dash-line," Edwin Lacierda, a spokesman for Philippine President Benigno Aquino, told reporters.

The "9-dash-line" refers to China's claim over the South China Sea as it depicts it on maps, including the map in the passport.

The Philippine Foreign Ministry said the decision not to stamp its visa into the Chinese passports reinforced its protest against China's "excessive claim over almost the entire South China Sea".

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing and Manuel Mogato in Manila; Editing by Robert Birsel)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Literary Giant Dies

Literary Giant Dies

Nobel winner Garcia Marquez, master of magical realism, dies at 87.  Read 

Election 2014

Election 2014

India holds biggest day of voting with BJP gaining strength  Full Article | Full Coverage 

Insider Trading

Insider Trading

Ex-Goldman director Gupta starts prison term on June 17.  Full Article 

Market Eye

Market Eye

Sensex jumps 351 points, snaps 3-day losing streak  Full Article 

Expansion Plans

Expansion Plans

Reliance Industries, HPCL Mittal plan refinery expansions.  Full Article 

S&P on India

S&P on India

S&P: India's ratings to depend on next govt econ, fiscal policies.  Full Article 

Ambitious Aim

Ambitious Aim

In green car race, Toyota adds muscle with fuel-cell launch.  Full Article 

Deal Talk

Deal Talk

Piramal to buy 20 percent stake in Shriram Capital for $334 million.  Full Article 

Bond Market

Bond Market

A star abroad, RBI boss riles bond traders at home  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage