China's passport propaganda baffles experts
China is issuing passports with a map of the disputed South China Sea labeled as part of China.
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The map of China, on page 8 of the new passports, shows a dotted line to illustrate China’s territorial claim to almost the whole of the South China Sea, which puts it in conflict with a number of its neighbors, such as Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Troubled waters: disputes in the China Seas
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Washington has dismissed the map as irrelevant.
“These issues need to be negotiated among the stakeholders, among ASEAN and China, and, you know, a picture on a passport does not change that,” she added.
China has defended its new travel documents as being in line with international standards.
“China is not targeting a specific country,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Friday. “China is willing to communicate with relevant countries and continue to promote contacts.”
The passport row is the latest flare-up of tensions in the South China Sea that are complicating Beijing’s relations with several of its neighbors.
In May, China suspended the import of bananas from the Philippines until Manila backed down in a dispute over fisheries around the Scarborough Shoal.
In June, the state owned Chinese oil company CNOOC invited foreign firms to bid for exploration rights in an area close to Vietnam’s coast. A month later Beijing announced that it was upgrading the town of Sansha, in the Paracel Islands, which it seized from Vietnam in 1974, to the status of a prefecture-level municipality and would soon station troops there.
China is also embroiled in a territorial dispute with Japan over three uninhabited islands in the East China Sea known in Chinese as the Diaoyu islands and in Japan as the Senkaku. Both sides have sent surveillance and coast guard vessels to patrol the disputed waters, raising fears of a clash.