A map showing China's territorial claims in the South China Sea. (Internet photo)
Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam and India have all raised objections to the new passport China is issuing to its nationals over concerns that admitting the bearers of the passports would represent their tacit recognition of Beijing's territorial claims.
China's new 48-page passport began to be issued on May 15. Pages 8-47 feature pictures of scenic attractions, maps or descriptions of areas claimed by Beijing. These include Taiwan as well as territories also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam and India.
Though Taiwan has never been governed by the PRC, the Chinese government regards the island as one of its provinces. Sun Moon Lake in central Taiwan's Nantou county and Chingshui Cliff on the island's east coast have been included in the passport, prompting calls from lawmakers of Taiwan's main opposition Democratic Progressive Party to President Ma Ying-jeou's government to complain to Beijing over their inclusion.
Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council issued a statement on Nov. 22 calling on the Chinese government to "face the reality" and focus on improving cross-strait relations.
The statement has not satisfied the opposition. "We need to do something about this. But it seems to me that the Ma administration does not know what to do," said Pasuya Yao, a DPP legislator. Chen Chi-mei, another DPP legislator, said Ma should threaten to cut dialogue with Beijing over the issue.
Vietnam and the Philippines both have territorial disputes with China over islands in the South China Sea, China's claims to which are also reflected in the passport. In Vietnam, customs officers have rejected several Chinese visitors bearing the new passports from entering the country in order to avoid implicitly recognizing China's claim to the entirety of the South China Sea, where Vietnam claims the Paracels and parts of the Spratly islands.
The government of the Philippines, which claims Scarborough Shoal and parts of the Spratlys, has also officially filed a complaint with Beijing.
The government of India meanwhile has also objected to the map printed in the new passports, which show areas disputed by the two countries as Chinese territory. The Indian embassy in Beijing has begun in response to tag another map with the visas they issue to Chinese applicants to "correct" the maps in their passports.
Pasuya Yao 姚文智
Chen Chi-mei 陳其邁
Ma Ying-jeou 馬英九