The New Chinese Passports Upset its Neighbors
Recently, Vietnam and the Philippines have refused to grant visas to Chinese citizens who hold passports of the Middle Kingdom. The reason? China has recently issued new passports that are not in favor of their South East Asian neighbors.
Reasons of Discord
These documents contain new maps that include territories also claimed by neighboring countries. The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs stated that the recognition of these passports would, “legitimize the Chinese territorial claims” and that, “measures will be taken against these documents.”
Indeed, the territorial disputes in the South China Sea undermine relations between neighboring countries in the region these past few years. Maritime areas claimed by Japan, South Korea or Vietnam could conceal large quantities of oil and gas in its basement, which explains the tensions and dispute.
Beijing’s territorial claims, however, are superior to those of its neighbors and its recent military power seriously concerned the surrounding states. However, as for the side of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it is stated that, “China wants to stay in relationship with the countries concerned in order to promote healthy development of trade between China and the outside world.” However with the uprising of this new issue, in addition to the one of the Filipino workers having been denied work visas in China, does not seem to relieve tensions with its neighbors.
Reactions of Defense Issued by Concerned Countries
The Philippines, Vietnam and India, which are among the most vocal critics of this new Chinese measure, refused to accept certain visas to Chinese citizens and put their stamp on the passport which according to them “rapes” their sovereignty and “the good agreement between neighboring countries.”
The most important reactions are on the Vietnam’s side where, according to the Global Times, the latter refused the entry into its territory of Chinese citizens holding the new passport. Some Chinese have been turned back at Noi Bai airport in Hanoi, the capital of the country, as a form of retaliation. Vietnamese authorities indicate that these passports “violating their national sovereignty” have agreed to provide visas to Chinese citizens on independent documents.
China Attempts to Calm Tensions
Recently, the Chinese authorities are trying to ease the tension and explain why they made their map in such a way. Hong Lei, spokesman of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, recently stated that “its neighbors should not be formalized for this passport issue because the purpose of the new electronic Chinese passports is to strengthen our technological capabilities and facilitate the lives of our citizens who wish to travel.” Unfortunately, this explanation did not convince its neighboring countries. Another spokesman of Chinese diplomacy has indicated that these passports were in compliance with international standards and were not intended to cause harm to anyone. However, with the various other tensions between other countries, it is imperative for China to come up with a new convincing statement or solution in order to ease such disputes.