China puts claims map on passports, angering Philippines
MANILA (REUTERS) - China is issuing passports containing a map marking its territorial claims in a maritime dispute with neighbouring South-east Asian nations, triggering an angry protest on Thursday from the Philippines.
It means other claimant countries will have to stamp the microchip-equipped passports of thousands of Chinese tourists and businessmen containing the Chinese claims that they are disputing.
Stand-offs between Chinese vessels and the Philippine and Vietnamese navies in the South China Sea have become more common as China increases patrols in waters believed to hold vast reserves of oil and natural gas.
"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.