Chinese daily wades into passport map row with neighbours

Last Updated: Tue, Nov 27, 2012 05:50 hrs

Beijing, Nov 27 (IANS) A state−run Chinese daily Tuesday cited scholars as saying that a passport map row with neighbours, including India, does not change the fact that the disputed territories belong to China.

An article in the Global Times said Vietnam's immigration authorities are issuing separate visa sheets to new Chinese passport holders instead of stamping directly on visa pages, after Beijing issued new passports that include a map of territories also claimed by other countries.

The map lays claim of China to the maritime sovereignty in the South China seas. But Vietnam is refusing to accept this.

On Saturday, the Indian embassy in Beijing began stamping new Chinese passports with a map showing a border territory disputed by the two countries as claimed by India, the daily reported.

This May, China started issuing the new passport that contain an electronic chip, which includes the holder's fingerprints, signature and photographs.

The 48−page passport not only uses scenery as background for many pages, but also includes a map of China.

The daily cited scholars as saying that the episode does not change the fact that the disputed territories belong to China, nor does it mean that China plans to solve the disputes by issuing a new passport.

"The on−going passport row can be solved via diplomatic channels. After all, it is not possible to suspend Sino−foreign personnel exchanges due to this episode," Zhao Gancheng, an expert at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, told the Global Times Monday.

Since tensions over territorial disputes with neighbouring countries in the South China Sea and East China Sea escalated in the past year, China has adopted a series of measures to strengthen its hold on these areas, the media report said.

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