MANILA, Philippines – The government should reject Chinese nationals entering the country with their new electronic passports featuring a map of China’s territory that includes the West Philippine Sea, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago said Wednesday.
Santiago said that China’s new passport is a “direct assault of our sovereignty” and “an act of aggression.”
“We will be well within our rights to deny them entry,” she said. “They cannot be allowed to go around our country bearing that offensive document.”
China had issued their new e-passports that bear an image of a map claiming the disputed West Philippines Seas.
The map shows an outline of China and includes the West Philippine Sea, hemmed in by dashes. Chinese official maps have long shown the same, but this is viewed as particularly provocative since it requires other nations to stamp it.
Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) secretary Albert del Rosario had sent a diplomatic note to the Chinese Embassy calling it “excessive declaration of maritime space.”
Santiago said that she would recommend for the DFA and the Department of Justice to coordinate and instruct the Bureau of Immigration to deny entry of Chinese nationals bearing the new e-passports.
“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 Philippine territory and maritime domain,” Del Rosario had said.
Several Southeast Asian nations, such as Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam, also have disputed China’s territorial claims.
Last Tuesday, the United States said it will raise concerns with Beijing over a map printed in new Chinese passports that is causing “tension and anxiety” among claimant states in the disputed South China Sea.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told a news briefing it was up to countries to decide what their passports look like and the US would still accept the Chinese one as a legal document.
But she added: “That’s a different matter than whether it’s politically smart or helpful to be taking steps that antagonize countries.”
She said it was unhelpful for creating an environment for resolving the territorial disputes.
The US intervention won’t be welcomed by Beijing, which regards as meddling Washington’s advocacy for peaceful settlement of the conflicting claims in the South China Sea, a potential regional flashpoint. The US has no territorial claim itself but says it has a national interest in the stability of a region vital to global trade. With a report from AP