The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced on Wednesday, November 28, that the Philippine government has decided not to stamp its visas on China’s new electronic passport.
This, they say, is to reinforce the Philippines’ protest against China’s 9-dash line claim on the entire South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea, and avoid any form of misinterpretation regarding the Philippines’ stand on the issue.
The new computer-chipped passport issued by China displays a map of China which includes the disputed West Philippine Sea territories as part of their borders. China’s 9-dash claim argues that it has sovereignty over most of the sea.
The Philippines however has insisted that this claim is inconsistent with national laws, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
This follows after Vietnam’s announcement on Tuesday, November 27, of its refusal to stamp the new Chinese e-passport. Vietnam is one of the countries who has claims in the South China sea – particularly on Paracel Islands which is currently being occupied by China, and Spratly Islands to which Brunei, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Taiwan are also laying claim. Vietnam has demanded that Beijing withdraw these newly issued documents.
Philippines authority and Vietnamese authority have instructed the issuance of separate “stapled visas” to the carriers of the new Chinese e-passport. Although there is no hindrance to the travel of Chinese citizens to and from these countries, some have complained that the process is more time consuming.
The map has also prompted India’s disapproval with regard to the map’s depiction of its disputed northern border areas as Chinese territory. India authorities have responded by issuing Chinese e-passport carriers with visas embossed with New Delhi’s own maps.
The United States has decided to bring its concerns to Beijing because of the “tension and anxiety” the new e-passport was causing among the claimant states. The new passport is China’s latest move in their claim towards the West Philippine Sea. – Nadine Gutierrez with reports from Rappler.com and Inquirer.net