In an angry response to China’s decision to include in its revised passports an offending map, which shows Beijing staking its claim on the entire South China Sea, Vietnamese officials are refusing to stamp the visa pages in the new Chinese passports.
Vietnamese passport control offices are issuing separate visa sheets to new Chinese passport holders instead of stamping inside the pages. Additionally, the officials are stamping those stamped previously as invalid.
An outline of China printed in the upper-left corner of the newly issued passports includes Taiwan, regions of India-China border dispute — Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) — and the whole of the South China Sea, parts of which are claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia.
Though these contested regions have long been included in China’s official maps, the move to put them in its passports is seen as an act of provocation since it would leave other nations with no choice but to endorse the border claims by affixing their official stamps to the documents.
The Philippines, Taiwan and India were also infuriated by the new Chinese map on passports and have registered their protest.
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The Vietnamese lodged their complaint by sending a diplomatic note to the Chinese embassy in Hanoi, demanding that Beijing remove the “erroneous content” printed on the passport.
The Philippines, which claims parts of the South China Sea, sent a formal protest letter to Beijing last week, calling the maps "an excessive declaration of maritime space in violation of international law.”
Manila is currently accepting the new Chinese passports while it weighs its options, Foreign Ministry spokesman Raul Hernandez has been quoted as saying by the BBC.
Though India hasn't diplomatically taken up the issue, it calibrated an action of stamping its own official map on the visa issued on these Chinese passports, Indian media reported. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was reported not to have raised the issue in his meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the East Asia and related summits in Cambodia earlier last week.