The Chinese sure are great at gestures perfectly calibrated to irritate and unite all of their neighbors against them. The issue this time: a brand new watermarked map found in the latest Chinese passports which includes a dashed line encompassing most of the disputed islands in the South China Sea. Vietnam and the Philippines were predictably enough none too amused by this symbolic annexation.
“The Philippines strongly protests the inclusion of the nine-dash lines in the e-passport as such image covers an area that is clearly part of the Philippines’ territory and maritime domain,” Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said on Thursday, referring to the lines on the passport map.
Vietnam had written to China in protest against the new passports and had asked it to “reverse their incorrect content”, said Luong Thanh Nghi, a spokesman for Vietnam’s foreign ministry.
“This action by China has violated Vietnam’s sovereignty to the Paracel and Spratly islands as well as our sovereign rights and jurisdiction to related maritime areas in the South China Sea, or the East Sea,” he told a news conference.
In addition, China managed to anger India by incorporating disputed territories in the north-eastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh and the Aksai Chin area in eastern Kashmir in its map. The Indians reacted swiftly:
The Indian embassy in Beijing is said to have retaliated by stamping Chinese visas with a map of their own which shows the territories in India.
Well done, China. You’re proving quite adept at helping build consensus among your otherwise fractious neighbors.