State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland expressed “concerns” about new Chinese passports that depict disputed territories as Chinese at a Tuesday press briefing.
Despite these concerns, however, the State Department will continue to accept the new Chinese passports as legal travel documents, according to Nuland.
“We do have concerns about this map, which is causing tension and anxiety between and among the states in the South China Sea,” Nuland said. “We do intend to raise this with the Chinese, in terms of it not being helpful to the environment we all seek to resolve these issues.”
Nuland said she did not have a “remedy to predict,” when asked if the United States would ask the Chinese to remove the map.
This comes one day after the Washington Post reported that some countries are not accepting the new passports, which depict disputed territories as Chinese:
China’s new official passport carries, on its eighth page, a watermark map of China that has set off diplomatic disputes with four neighboring countries. The small map shows a version of China that includes disputed territory claimed by India, a vast stretch of the South China Sea, including islands claimed by several other countries, and the entirety of Taiwan.
The map seems to affront diplomatic protocol around the disputed territory; it risks exacerbating regional fears of Chinese heavy-handedness with its neighbors and their sovereignty. Southeast Asian nations, on guard against China’s rising strength and sometimes pushy foreign policy, have been edging away from Beijing in recent years. So this map is probably not going to help.
The offended Asian nations are striking back in their own ways. Vietnamese border officials are refusing to stamp the new passports. India is stamping its own version of the map on visas issued to Chinese citizens. The Taiwanese and Filipino governments have formally complained.