Destinations Asia

China’s new passport design is ticking off its neighbors, but India pushes back

Nov 24, 2012 5:23 am

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Angering the Philippines and Vietnam is one thing, but getting on India’s bad side is one thing the Chinese would rather not do.

— Jason Clampet

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Ng Han Guan  / Associated Press

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. The Philippines has protested China's depiction of its claims over the entire South China Sea in an image of a map printed on newly issued Chinese e-passports. Ng Han Guan / Associated Press


NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India is stamping its own map on visas it issues to holders of new Chinese passports that contain a map depicting disputed territory within China’s borders, the latest twist in tension in Asia over China’s territorial claims.

China’s new microchip-equipped passports contain a map that marks its claims over disputed waters and also show as its territory two Himalayan regions that India also claims.

The map means countries disputing the Chinese claims will have to stamp microchip-equipped passports of countless visitors, in effect acquiescing to the Chinese point of view.

In response, India is issuing visas stamped with its own version of the borders, sources with knowledge of the dispute told Reuters.

“The correct map of India is stamped on to visas being issued on such passports,” said one of the sources, who declined to be identified.

China’s long-standing territorial disputes with Japan and Southeast Asian neighbors have grown heated in recent months.

On Thursday, the Philippines responded angrily to the new passports, saying Chinese carrying the document would be violating Philippine national sovereignty.

India and China fought a brief, high-altitude border war in 1962.

The nuclear-armed neighbors have held multiple rounds of talks to resolve their disputed Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh regions where they fought the war but have made little progress.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry Hua Chunying told a daily news briefing that China has selected the maps as background on the inside pages of the passports issued by the Ministry of Public Security in May.

“The design is not targeting a specific country,” Hua said. “We hope that the relevant countries take a rational and sensible attitude … to avoid causing interference with normal Sino-foreign personnel exchanges.”

Additional reporting by Sui-Lee Wee in Beijing; Editing by Robert Birsel. Copyright (2012) Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions.

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