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.

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by: Giang from: Vietnam
November 24, 2012 5:23 AM
if china print the map on its passport so the others countries can do it too.
but its recent actions are based on their fast developing economy. We need to slow it down, and the easiest way is to BOYCOTT CHINA PRODUCTS, ....
In Response

by: from SA from: south africa
December 01, 2012 4:42 AM
china will still remain one of the worlds manufacturing powers. if you bothered to read up india isnt capable of manufacturing on the kind of level that china can because india has taken a short cut and concentrated on light industry infrastructure such as IT and computers. china on the other hand has spent time and money doing the hard work and building new roads factories and machines. in terms of manufacturing china is far better suited. and its not just about physical infrastructure, young chinese people are obssesed with moving forward and trying to accept as much modern culture as possible. this is already a good thing because it means that chinese people will change the way they think. the nations of south east asia are another story. countries like vietnam, thailand and laos remain backward in their thinking. for instance, you still believe in the falacy that rhino horn has got medicinal properties. and people from these nations come into my country (south africa) and murder rhinos (STOP MURDERING OUR RHINOS, THEY ARE ON THE ENDANGERED SPECIES LIST!) whenever such people are caught its always people from south east asia, not the chinese, japanese or koreans. how can a country like vietnam move forward when they cling onto old wives tales?
In Response

by: Hoang from: Canada
November 25, 2012 6:03 AM
So is Vietnam and India, moving into high end products and technology. Vietnam and India invent and create new ideas, and not copy and steal intellectual properties from other countries like China. Western countries are already afraid to invest in China.
In Response

by: jonathan huang from: canada
November 24, 2012 5:34 PM
we are thinking of moving all the crap py shoes industries to Vietnam and India, do you still want them? China is moving to the high end of food chain. Very soon those cheap products will be produced in Vietnam and India. We will see how you gonna boycott, LOL

by: Ali D from: WA
November 24, 2012 5:05 AM
save your hard earn money, stop buying junk, poison and all the stuff yor do not really need from that place. Your debt and our country's debt are our own doing and our own worse enemy.
In Response

by: Anonymous
November 25, 2012 1:26 AM
Unfortunately, saving money requires going on the cheap path, which happens, most surprisingly to be goods manufactured from The People's Republic of China and The Republic of China.

by: Maurice from: USA
November 24, 2012 4:42 AM
Chinese inland including some oversea and Taiwan are thinking themself as tahe most powerful tribe and thinking to be as Mongol. They want a stunt again like Mongol. They insulting by words to neighborhood countries and insulting well. They act as their own domain to neighborhood countries. Many time at every neighborhood countries, They occupied the lands bu send the troops. Like KWUNLON in Burma. They tested India too, so had a war between India. They always abuse the agreement of peacefully living without violent which was written by Chu Enline and other Leaders. Next war will be between China and rest of world. China and Taiwan are Sharing to get the technologies from east and west world. Be careful.

by: Ab Normal
November 24, 2012 3:43 AM
We have all seen from the violent protests of nationalistic racists vandalizing anything Japanese related, with even local "police" captains egging on and joining these protests themselves. China's government is just glad they can distract their citizens from the increasing wealth gap. There is no level the CCP won't stoop to to gain an iota of power. But power does not equal respect.

Check out the emigration numbers of China's educated. They know their home is rife with corruption and not an ideal place to raise their children, they rather take a lower paying job abroad than stay home. This brain drain is typical of communist countries. The government is an incestuous network of nepotism and a vulgar example of the 1% of haves vs the have nots. Any millionaire or billionaire is in bed with communist party officials. See http://nyti.ms/PtVqIk

Really smart and talented people cannot make it easily in China because their society has been corrupted by the communist regime, and do not truly value meritocracy. Look at how many students, scientists, even the American Olympic coaches, there's even a Chinatown in South Africa of all places!

PRC controls the media, censors the Internet, deletes whatever weibao post and arrest whichever blogger that suggests a change in government. And just recently where a journalist who reported the local deaths of 4 young boys in a poor province, the police arrested the journalist. Why? Because his negative story made the town "look bad". Chinese justice is draconian. They will punish the messenger and their associates. And during the leadership change, they were so paranoid, they forced all Beijing cabbies to disable the window locks in case passengers want to distribute literature by slipping it through the windows. Does this sound like a normal civil society? No. This sounds like a government AFRAID of its Own People.

Before anyone repeats the typical 50 cent mantra "ooh hypocritical western arrogance", I am Chinese whose family escaped the starvation in the 70s. They were tortured for owning property and guess who's in charge now? That's right, those violent anti-intellectual revolutionaries. It's is why their governance is so prehistoric and behind every other developed country. Their leadership never refuses to evolve, refuses to acknowledge or listen to the public. They'd rather silence the masses and keep them in perpetual ignorance with no less than 7 ministries of propaganda. More importantly, they now have a complete monopoly over China's wealth and they don't care how polluted, poor and left behind the rest of the 99% live. They can censor and throw all the people in jail as much as they want. They're not making any friends, no one wants to emigrate there, or save up a life's worth of money to study at their universities. But hey as long as we keep getting those iPads and Walmart crap, we tolerate them right?
In Response

by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
November 24, 2012 5:28 PM
Dont you worry about China. First we have enough brain power, even the west setup high technology embargoes on China, we still build our own space station, GPS systems, aircraft carrier, stealth jet planes.
second, the statistic is that 70% Chinese international students went back China after graduation. This number is growing since economy is better in China than other countries.
It is not the first day, west rumouring China collapse. However, China is growing stronger! As an oversea Chinese, I am proud of my country and I support the communist party!

by: RW911 from: India
November 24, 2012 1:09 AM
We Indians don't like this one bit. Not that we hate China but that country has a problem with each of its neighbor and wouldn't know 'peaceful negotiations' if it bludgeoned them in the head.

Anyway if they piss off half the world, the end isn't too far away now is it?
In Response

by: Desibaba from: USA
November 26, 2012 2:21 PM
Zelsd, China has issues with every country in Asia .Maybe you should look into that before trying to steal land from other countries.
In Response

by: Zelsd from: Canada
November 24, 2012 6:20 PM
India has border issues with its major neighbors, but China's only mainland border issue is with India. If China can work border issues peacefully with Pakistan, Nepal, Russia,etc, why is India the only nation with a problem?
In Response

by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
November 24, 2012 5:20 PM
Dont you worry, USA pissed off the whole world, so what? As long as China has carrot and stick, you have to listen.

by: Buck Mast from: Tennessee
November 24, 2012 12:07 AM
Communist China-get out of Tibet,It does not belong to you and never has
In Response

by: Anonymous
November 25, 2012 1:29 AM
If so, then the United States should at most have its Louisiana Purchase. How else did China get Tibet and the US get Mexican territory?
The most surprising answer!
war.

by: DZL from: CAN
November 23, 2012 10:49 PM
Start turning people back that have these passports, China's govermnent might get the hint and fix the problem.
In Response

by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
November 24, 2012 1:36 PM
No, on the contrary, those countries are begging Chinese to stay longer, travel more often and spend more money there. Especially at this time the world economy is sinking, they desperately need Chinese money. Am I right?
In Response

by: rakeshkapila from: Canada
November 24, 2012 10:15 AM
Interestingly, Chinese just forgot to include Japan, Eastern Siberia, and Alaskan Islands in their projected map of their national territories. What a shame and a let down in their national ego and political pride in the 21st century. They say it correctly what rich folks can not buy easily, they try to grab by hook or crook ! I thought that they have enough challenges internally to resolve before they buy in to new ones across their existing neighbourhoods. Similiar erratic action by ASEAN countries can easily result in complete denial of Citizenship and Residency right to the persons of Chinese origins in their territories who easily number between 20 to 30 million in south east asia. Under the existing main land Chinese law they have automatic right to chinese ctizenships. Yes! unfortunately, the local economies in the South East Asia shall suffer greatly in the process but the PRC shall get the taste of their own medicine in the longer run for this stupid pictures on their national passports. In such case they shall also be tempted to drop their solitary claims on the South China seas. Interestingly, these islands were said to have nbeen discovered during Yuan Dynesty and hence the real ownership claims should go to the existing successors of the State of Mongolia and not to PRC as is being projected in the international political scenes in South East Asia.

by: rakeshkapila from: Canada
November 23, 2012 10:23 PM
The responsible response should be simple, the chinese carrying these passports should be barred from entry in to the countries protesting these images on the passport. Thye can declare them damaged, improper, mischievious, provocative or just not legally acceptable for travel in their territories. This is not a small incident bu a major political ploy to dominate and carry a big stick against the smaller ASEAN states and India and Bhutan etc. If Malaysia and Indonesians cooperate the sea passages through Strait of Malaca running through their territorial waters can be declared out of bounds for ships going to Chinese main land and it shall stop their 80% of the trade with the rest of the world. Soon they shall omit this obsene pronographic fictional map of their middle kingdom from their passports. What is needed a united response which is responsible and thought through nad is planned properly !
In Response

by: Desibaba from: USA
November 26, 2012 2:22 PM
Rakesh, I agree. Kick them all out, and refuse entry to those with new fake map passports.
In Response

by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
November 24, 2012 1:33 PM
I bid they dare not even try. Just look what happened when Chinese refuse to travel to Philippines after the Huangyan island incident? Its president just crying and begging Chinese to go back and buy their banana. Same thing happaned to Japan, now Chinese refuse to buy Japanese cars and refuse to travel to Japan. You already see a big drop of Japan economy. Vietnam is the same thing.
China is playing very smart as this article said. Using soft power without force.
In Response

by: sahib from: UK
November 24, 2012 12:11 AM
hahaha, India is not a small country.It is aspiring to be a big ecnomic and militry power, as it is drilling for Oil in South China Sea, a clear provocation to China.

by: Jay from: San Francisco
November 23, 2012 9:58 PM
I predict that the next World War will be China vs the US. The Chinese do nothing to help the world - they simply use and exploit people. I have seen this across Asia in countries like Cambodia, in Africa, even in Cuba. China is making plenty of enemies around the globe.
In Response

by: Anonymous
November 25, 2012 12:58 AM
Apparently, manufacturing things at a lower price so that it can be afforded by everyone is not helping people under your interpretations.
In Response

by: Naja from: Hawaii
November 24, 2012 11:11 AM
That's why it was treasonous to close down American industry and chase the cheapest wages and below cost materials in China.

Anyone with sense saw this coming back in the 90's. Our leaders sold us out for a buck simple as that. China was happy to modernize at our expense. Only China and the middlemen made out like bandits.
In Response

by: brad from: Indiana
November 24, 2012 10:50 AM
Unfortunately the US will lose. Only they will the world understand human rights...or the lack thereof.
In Response

by: Inverse137
November 24, 2012 8:40 AM
"I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones." - Albert Einstein
In Response

by: Eddie from: USA
November 24, 2012 2:57 AM
The same could be said about the USA....
In Response

by: Laura from: San Francisco
November 24, 2012 12:23 AM
I predict to next world BS is Jay from San Francisco, I also have been across the world, especially Africa and Cuba. They love what China is doing, which is helping.
Do not make up stuff just because you have a personal grudge against China, oh by the way, I work for Yum brand (KFC, Pepsi, pizza hut).

We are investing 10 billion dollars in the US, so that does not sound like a war to me.

by: Hien from: USA
November 23, 2012 9:46 PM
It is easy to solve the problem. The countries which involve with China just print the stamp label with the the recognize map and paste on the passport then stamp on it the problem is done.
Chinese authorities degraded themselves by doing this acts mean they invide the other countries to treat their bride passport like a piece of toilet paper so every countries can can use it as they wanted to. Very smart move from China.
The bitterness is Taiwan who want to gang up with Beijing to suck the oil in East Sea/West Philippine Sea, now just watch what Beijing friendship as Chinese root.
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