A Chinese man holds up a Chinese passport with details on a page that shows dashes which include the South China Sea as part of the Chinese territory outside a passport office in Beijing, China, Friday, Nov. 23, 2012. (Photo/AP/Ng Han Guan)
DHARAMSHALA, November 23: China has again stirred up the hornet’s nest of unsettled boundary disputes with its neighbours by issuing revised passports that show it staking its claim on Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin (in India), the entire South China Sea and even Taiwan.
The passports issued in May, carries an outline of China printed in the upper left corner with the contentious regions, hemmed in by the dashes. Although China’s official maps have long included parts of India, Taiwan and the South China Sea as Chinese territory, this act of printing it on its passports could be seen as a provocation since other countries would be required to tacitly endorse those claims by affixing their official seals to the documents.
According to media reports, India has retaliated by stamping these passports with its own version of the map, marking out its own territorial boundaries. Although India is yet to raise this matter diplomatically with China, the issue however could feature on the agenda when India's National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon visits China for border talks in a few weeks.
The 15th and the latest round of Sino-Indian special representative talks were held in New Delhi this January and reportedly ended in a deadlock
after Beijing insisted it would settle for nothing less that “its share” of Arunachal Pradesh.
Philippines and Vietnam have sent diplomatic notes to the Chinese embassies, lodging their “strong protest” and demanding that Beijing remove the “erroneous content” printed in the passport.
The Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam are scheduled to meet December 12 to discuss claims in the South China Sea and the role of China.
In Taiwan, the ruling party and opposition lawmakers alike have condemned the map, saying it could harm the warming ties the historic rivals have enjoyed since Ma Ying-jeou became president 4 1/2 years ago.
‘‘This is total ignorance of reality and only provokes disputes,’’ said Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, the Cabinet-level body responsible for ties with Beijing. The council said the government cannot accept the map.
Taiwan recently decided to bar the Dalai Lama from entering the island to give a keynote speech at the 2012 Asia Pacific Regional Conference of the International Federation of Business and Professional Women in December, citing “professional assessment.”
Taiwan's foreign ministry confirmed that they would not allow the visit, noting that "It's just not a good time."
The country’s opposition Democratic Progressive Party politicians accused President Ma Ying-jeou of blocking the Dalai Lama's visit due to pressure from Beijing while the organisers of the visit said the move reflected fear of angering China.