By SUPALAK GANJANAKHUNDEE
The new passport, which contains a map showing most of the South China Sea belonging to China, provoked angry reaction from many countries in the region including the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan and India.
The Philippines and Vietnam said they would not put immigration and visa stamps on the controversial passport. The US also raised concern over the issue. India, angered that the map claims Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin as Chinese territory, is stamping its own map on visas given to Chinese visitors.
The Thai Foreign Ministry’s permanent secretary Sihasak Phuangketkeow said the issue of the South China Sea is sensitive for many countries in the region, but the map or graphic in the passport or on other travel documents should not have legal implications on sovereignty over the disputed territory.
“Recognising the travel document is not equivalent to recognition of sovereignty of any country over any disputed territory,” he said.
China has territorial disputes in the South China Sea with many countries in Asean, including the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia.