China delivered a rousing jolt to its various border disputes last week with the introduction of a controversial new passport design. Visa pages in the passports incorporate a map—shown in an annotated photograph at The Washington Post—which includes Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin in the Himalayas, the long tongue of South China Sea bounded by the nine-dashed line, and, naturally, Taiwan. From Mark MacDonald at IHT Rendezvous:
“I think it’s one very poisonous step by Beijing among their thousands of malevolent actions,” Nguyen Quang A, a former adviser to the Vietnamese government, told The Financial Times, which first reported on the modified passports.
A senior diplomat based in Beijing told the paper that the new map represented “quite a serious escalation because China is issuing millions of these new passports and adult passports are valid for 10 years. If Beijing were to change its position later it would have to recall all those passports.”
[…] John Blaxland, a research fellow at the Strategic and Defense Studies Center at Australian National University, said the map gambit was “pretty clever.”
“It basically forces everyone who’s a claimant of South China Sea elements to acknowledge it by stamping it,” he told VOA News, calling it part of the “long game” being played by Beijing.
For now, the Philippines is playing along, but Vietnam has started issuing new visas on separate pieces of paper and invalidating existing ones to avoid endorsing the new passports. India has been more assertive, reports Rama Lakshmi at The Washington Post:
Now, the Indian Embassy in Beijing is doing a tit-for-tat with its own map. It has started stamping its version of the Indian map on visas issued to Chinese citizens, one that includes the two regions.
[…] Two years ago, China caused much irritation among Indian officials when
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