China angers neighbors with passports
BEIJING - Agence France-PresseChina’s new passports show a map including its claim to almost all the South China Sea, provoking protests by the Philippines and Vietnam but leaving out islands bitterly disputed with Japan.
Beijing has been engaged in a simmering row with its southern neighbors over its claim to vast swathes of the South China Sea, with Chinese maps having a “nine-dash line” that runs almost to the Philippine and Malaysian coasts.
The row saw a maritime standoff with Manila earlier this year and took centre stage at the East Asia Summit, attended by U.S. President Barack Obama, earlier this week.
China and Japan have also engaged in furious exchanges over East China Sea islands administered by Tokyo, which calls them Senkaku, and claimed by Beijing as Diaoyu. China saw mass protests over them nationwide in September.
The latest front in the South China Sea dispute is travel documents issued by Beijing, with its new computer-chipped passport, or e-Passport, showing various islands as Chinese territory, including the Paracels and Spratlys. But the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands are absent, Tokyo said.
Manila claims part of the Spratlys and Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario sent Beijing a formal protest letter yesterday, calling the maps “an excessive declaration of maritime space in violation of international law.”