Vietnam refuses to stamp new Chinese passports over map
BBC News, 26 November 2012
Vietnamese officials are refusing to stamp new Chinese passports bearing a map that lays claim to disputed areas.
Border authorities have instead been issuing visas on separate pieces of paper and stamping those issued previously as invalid.
Vietnam, the Philippines and Taiwan have objected to the map because it shows disputed islands in the South China Sea to be a part of China.
India is also embroiled a row over the map’s inclusion of disputed areas.
Official Chinese maps have long shown Taiwan and the South China Sea to be part of its own territory despite ongoing disputes with its neighbours.
China’s Communist party newspaper, The People’s Daily, said that Vietnam and other neighbours were trying to contain China with help from the United States.
Vietnam, the Philippines, and Taiwan have already complained to China about the map on the new passport, which they say is an infringement of their sovereignty.
The potentially oil-rich Paracel islands, claimed by Vietnam and also claimed by Taiwan, appear on the map, as do the Spratly islands, part of which are claimed by the Philippines.
India, which disputes two Himalayan regions also claimed by China that is included on the map, is stamping its own map on visas it issues to Chinese citizens.
Meanwhile, the Philippines is still currently accepting the new Chinese passports while it considers its options, says Foreign Ministry spokesman Raul Hernandez.
Last week, a meeting of the Association of South East Asian (Asean) nations in Cambodia saw China and the Philippines openly clash over disputed islands.
Asean has been trying to reach consensus over how to resolve the various territorial disputes with China.