China’s quest to make all of her neighbors angry is starting to get make some serious progress (via Mark MacDonald):
China’s new passports — embossed with a map showing disputed territories as belonging solely to the mainland — are causing quite the diplomatic furor in Asia.
India, Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines have all objected to the new map, which puts a number of island chains and border areas under Beijing’s sovereignty.
Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said in a statement that Beijing was “not targeting a specific country” with the revised passport map, noting that “China is willing to communicate with the relevant countries.”
Shi Yinhong, a professor of international affairs at Renmin University, said in The Financial Times that the new map could “demonstrate our national sovereignty but it could also make things more problematic and there is already more than enough trouble” over territorial disputes.
“We are not prepared to accept it,” said Salman Khurshid, the Indian foreign minister. “We, therefore, ensure that our flags of disagreement are put out immediately when something happens. We can do it in an agreeable way or you can do it in a disagreeable way.”
India, meanwhile, has come up with its own map, which it is stamping into the passports of Chinese citizens seeking Indian visas.
Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency, said that Vietnamese border officials — not wanting to appear to validate the new Chinese map — were refusing to stamp visas into the passports of Chinese visitors.
Instead, Vietnam was issuing visas on separate pieces of paper that are inserted into the passports.
Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario sent a verbal note to China’s embassy in Manila saying that “the Philippines strongly protests the inclusion of the nine-dash line in the e-passport as such image covers an area clearly part of the Philippines’ territory and maritime domain.”
The Chinese passport map includes the popular Taiwanese tourist sites of Sun Moon Lake and Cingshui Cliffs. That did not sit well with President Ma Ying-jeou, who said in a statement that Beijing should not “unilaterally damage the status quo of the hard-fought stability across the Taiwan Strait.”
Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council said: “China has ignored the truth and sparked disputes by including pictures of our territory and landscape in its new Chinese passports. It should put aside disputes and face up to reality.”