MANILA — A map that China has incorporated into its passports has drawn diplomatic fury because it appears to claim the entire South China Sea, ignoring competing claims from the Philippines, Vietnam and other neighboring countries.
Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario told reporters in Manila that he sent a note to the Chinese Embassy that his country “strongly protests” Beijing’s inclusion of an image showing China’s claimed maritime borders in its new passport.
In Beijing, the Foreign Ministry said the new passport was issued based on international standards.
China maintains it has ancient claims to all of the South China Sea, despite much of it being within the exclusive economic zones of Southeast Asian neighbors.
There are concerns that the disputes could escalate into violence.
The United States has said that it takes no sides in the territorial spats, but that it considers ensuring safe maritime traffic in the waters to be in its national interest. The U.S. has backed a call for a “code of conduct” to prevent clashes in the disputed territories.
It remains unclear whether China will sit down with rival claimants to draft such a legally binding nonaggression pact.
The vice-ministerial level meeting goes against Beijing’s approach of trying to settle the conflicts with individual countries.
ASEAN concluded its annual summit last Monday without reaching any consensus on the maritime disputes.
By Douglas Holtz-Eakin
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