News / Asia

    New Chinese Passports Rile Asian Neighbors

    A Chinese man holds up a Chinese passport with details on a page that shows dashes which include the South China Sea as part of the Chinese territory outside a passport office in Beijing, China, Friday, Nov. 23, 2012. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
    A Chinese man holds up a Chinese passport with details on a page that shows dashes which include the South China Sea as part of the Chinese territory outside a passport office in Beijing, China, Friday, Nov. 23, 2012. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
    Whenever a country issues new passports, someone almost always complains about the new design. But China's latest edition of travel logs is drawing formal criticism from countries across Asia.

    The passports feature a map of China that includes areas of the South China Sea claimed by other countries, as well as territory claimed by India.

    Taiwan's government objected to the passports Friday, following similar protests by the Philippines and Vietnam. Officials at the Indian Embassy in Beijing are protesting in their own way, stamping Chinese visas with a map showing the disputed territory belonging to India, according to The Press Trust of India.

    John Blaxland, with the Strategic and Defense Studies Center at Australian National University, called China's move "pretty clever."

    "It basically forces everyone who's a claimant of South China Sea elements to acknowledge it by stamping it," he said.

    As China's military and economic influence has grown throughout the world, Beijing has become more brazen in its claim to territories believed to be rich with oil and natural gas across the Asia-Pacific.

    China’s Foreign Ministry said the “nine-dash” map of the sea printed in the new passports wasn’t targeted at any specific countries.

    Blaxland described China’s move as part of a "long game" being played by a new generation of leaders who will steer the country for the next 10 years.

    "We've just seen a major transition in China … They can act deliberately and slowly, and slowly get their way. There's really not very much anyone is seriously prepared to do about it," he said.

    The Association of Southeast Asian Nations discussed the territorial disputes at a summit in Cambodia earlier this week but failed to achieve a united stand on how the 10 member countries should respond to China.  

    Carl Thayer, a professor emeritus at the University of New South Wales, said the map in China’s new passports may partly be in response to Vietnam’s passage earlier this year of a Law of the Sea. The law asserts Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Spratly and Paracel islands, which are claimed by both Hanoi and Beijing.

    “It's just finding one more way of turning the screw that China has jurisdiction,” Thayer said.

    Although Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines have been most vocal in their opposition to China’s moves, Brunei and Malaysia also have rival claims in the South China Sea, and Japan is embroiled in its own dispute over islands in the East China Sea. All the territorial spats have raised concerns about a potential maritime conflict, prompting the United States to wade into the controversy.

    The Obama administration says it is not taking sides but is pushing for the countries to adopt a code of conduct, which China opposes.

    Blaxley said the United States wants to secure its freedom of navigation in the region.

    “When you think back to the days of the Cold War, there was a clear code of conduct between Soviet or NATO or Western ships, that when they encountered each other, there was a protocol. Well there isn't one at the moment for the South China Sea, and that is problematic,” he said.

    Despite that, Blaxley said neither the United States nor any of the other countries directly affected by China’s moves have much of an appetite to take action regarding the passports or the territorial claims.

    As a result, Thayer said the passports will not change the reality on the ground, and will serve more as a political stunt than anything else. A stunt, he said, that other countries are as capable of performing.

    "I flew Air Vietnam," he said, "and it had a map up there clearly indicating that the Paracels and Spratlys were Vietnamese."

    Additional reporting by Victor Beattie.

    You May Like

    Vietnam Urges US to Lift Lethal Weapons Ban Amid S. China Sea Tensions

    US president’s upcoming visit to Vietnam underscores strength of relationship, and lifting embargo would reflect that trust, ambassador says

    Are US Schools Turning a Blind Eye to Radical Qatari Preachers?

    Parade of radical Islamist clerics using mosque at Qatar’s Education City draws mounting criticism for American universities that maintain satellite branches there

    Why Islamic State Is Down But Not Out

    Despite loss of territory, group’s ferocious attacks over past three months seen as testimony to its continued durability and resourcefulness

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 3
        Next 
    by: fromSA from: south africa
    December 01, 2012 4:29 AM
    americans...the biggest hypocrites on the face of the planet, always pointing fingers at everybody else when they were the ones who are guilty of doing the exact same things. learn to clean up your own act first before pointing at others....

    by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
    November 28, 2012 8:18 AM
    just refer the news of VOA. Chinese tourism to US growing they spend double than average.
    So kick them out of your country, hum?

    by: K.H.J.
    November 27, 2012 12:47 PM
    They will complain and do nothing as India backs up China's takeover of everything. Their is already a large Asian economic block forming for China and India to rule over the other member nations in it. There is nothing anyone can do about it.

    by: james greer from: wyoming
    November 25, 2012 1:49 AM
    China's quest is to become regional and global super power. and so doe's Russia.
    In Response

    by: Guillaume from: Paris
    November 28, 2012 10:58 AM
    And so is US !!! How could you forget it ????????????

    by: Anonymous from: wyuming
    November 25, 2012 1:35 AM
    "Red Dragon Rising" The rise of china will be America's demise. When china wakes it will shake the world. The american government gave them top secrete military weaponry informatiom, they inturn made it ten times better, and they ar'ent going to share. their power is more awesome than you can imagine. High - tech computerized warfare,thay have the capabilty to shut down the electrical power grids of any nation they wish in a heart beat.and they have much more. with the passport thing, they are just building up more power.
    In Response

    by: from SA from: south africa
    December 01, 2012 5:22 AM
    @SRA, typically arrogant american....lol. its not china that you should be afraid of you're right, its actually God. america is the biggest pseudo christian nation on the planet. the hurricane that hit new york is just a taste of what God has in store for you....good luck, at least china doesnt go around claming to be a holy christian nation and then do all sorts of sordid DARK things behind everybody elses back and then accuse everyone of doing the same thing. americans like paris hilton cant even handle broken nails, lol.
    In Response

    by: SRA from: USA
    November 27, 2012 10:22 PM
    I'm shaking in my boots. The boogie mans going to shut off the lights. Guess what Americans are taught at a very early age not to be afraid of the dark. About the only thing that will cause is about 300M angry Americans and a few extra bed time stories.

    by: L
    November 25, 2012 12:49 AM
    China should cut deals for ownership; like they will give royalties should the offending country relinquish territory in said dispute. It's like taking someones house in sparse land areas. We'll give you some money and well build a four story building in place of your home. You get the top floor and you have a new house and money. We take the bottom three floors and rent them. Everyone wins. The U.S. would have fewer territories to contend with; thus fewer military resources would be justified. The remaining territories could be sliced up in the future.

    by: Howard Miller from: Augusta GA
    November 24, 2012 10:40 PM
    US - CANADIAN BORDER DISPUTE CONTINUES
    It's ironic that one of the longest running border disputes is rarely mentioned. The Canadian passports clearly mark the island of Moosylvania as being US territory, while the US passport maps clearly define Moosylvania Island as being part of Canada.
    In Response

    by: Buck Mast from: Tennessee
    November 26, 2012 10:36 PM
    Sounds like no one wants Moosylvania

    by: Tony from: Texas
    November 24, 2012 10:12 AM
    The fact is that on these disputed territories some countries have already conducted concrete actions setting up facilities or grabing the natural resources but China didn't. Now, what Chinese is doing is just to hit back those one-sided moves from these countries.

    by: Think Again from: US
    November 24, 2012 9:17 AM
    China claims everything in their field of view. Just wait until they claim your city's chinatown because there are some chinese living there.

    In Response

    by: from SA from: south africa
    December 01, 2012 5:12 AM
    @guillaume.i totally agree with you there. once again americans proving that they are under-educated and just go around mouthing off. the americans are the bigesst hypocrites on earth. the americans also go around claiming everything in their site of view. the hawaii islands and alaska as far as i know isnt in the same physical vicinity of the other 50 states is it? and what about the military base in okinawa in japan? the americans annexed it during ww2 and havent given it back. and what about all those sarcastic jokes that americans make about canada? in the childrens movie the robinsons there is a joke about how canada becomes north montana in the future and in "how i met your mother" barney stinson once said that if canada plays its cards right it could become a state of america. these may only be examples from movies and television but a person can learn a great deal about how nations think from the media. i know from my friend in toronto that americans think that canadians are inferior. perhaps the americans should look at themselves first before pointing racist fingers at others. and another thing i've learned. people who point fingers at others are usually guilty of the same thing.
    In Response

    by: Guillaume from: France
    November 28, 2012 11:07 AM
    It's incredible, your guys, take a look at what the US do!!!!!

    then you are still not qualify to critic China, because, you know nothing about Chinese history..................
    In Response

    by: Avi from: Ottawa
    November 25, 2012 4:53 AM
    Well, back in India, we used to learn a nice phrase about Chinese foreign policy.
    "Whatever is mine, is mine forever. But whatever is yours, is negotiable!!"

    by: Skylight from: Taiwan
    November 24, 2012 7:30 AM
    Chinese government is insane to print other country's territory on its passport ! I suggest China print moon and mars on its passport, Idiot !!
    In Response

    by: from SA from: south africa
    December 01, 2012 4:52 AM
    well its insane for the taiwanese to eat, speak and think in chinese is it not? perhaps you should invent an entirely different culture, language and try to replace almost 5000 years of history? what kind of history do you teach your children at school? the pathetically short history of taiwan with its long prehistory or the history of china? if you dont like china then taiwan should give up chinese culture. perhaps the chinese should charge money from other people for practising their culture instead of claiming territories.
    Comments page of 3
        Next 

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora