New Chinese passports depict claims to South China Sea and Taiwan

Sat, Nov 24, 2012, 00:00

Just days after China’s hardline stance on ownership of islands in the region soured a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the country has angered its neighbours with its redesigned passports, which show Chinese ownership of the entire South China Sea and include Taiwan.

Inside the passports, an outline of China printed in the upper left corner includes Taiwan and the sea, with a dotted line isolating the area controlled by China.

The dotted line is a clear reference to China’s longstanding claim on the South China Sea in its entirety, though parts of the waters are also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia.

In Taiwan, which has been self-ruled since it split from the mainland after a bitter civil war in 1949, Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou said he hoped China would not take inappropriate action to break the hard-earned stability across the Taiwan Strait. The mainland affairs council urged the Chinese government to address the issue of Taiwan’s sovereignty pragmatically, and said China needed to face up to reality.

Philippine foreign secretary Albert del Rosario said his country protested “the inclusion of the nine-dash lines” in the passports as they covered “an area that is clearly part of the Philippine territory”.