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November 22, 2012

Philippines Protests Depiction of Disputed Islands on New Chinese Passports

by VOA News

The Philippines is protesting China's depiction of its claims over the entire South China Sea in an image of a map printed on new Chinese passports.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said Thursday the image includes an area that is part of the "Philippines' territory and maritime domain."

The two countries are in a long-running territorial dispute over the South China Sea, almost all of which is claimed by China.  Chinese and Philippine ships have engaged in tense stand-offs in the area.

​​​​In addition to the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia are involved in territorial disputes with China over the South China Sea.

The 3.5 million-square-kilometer area is one of the world's most important shipping routes.  It is also rich in fishing grounds and potential energy deposits.

Small-scale clashes, mostly between fishing vessels or patrol boats, occasionally break out between China and other claimant countries  But disputes have not escalated to the point of an all-out war.

Earlier this week, the Philippines said it will host a meeting next month with officials from Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia on how to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea.