PH protests China's e-passports

Posted at 11/22/2012 10:09 PM | Updated as of 11/23/2012 11:26 AM

MANILA, Philippines – A formal protest letter was sent to the Chinese Embassy in Manila on Thursday to oppose the new Chinese electronic passports, which showed various islands as Chinese territory, including the disputed Spratly Islands, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Thursday.

The note verbale stated that the Philippines “strongly protests the inclusion of the 9-dash lines in the e-Passport as such image covers an area that is clearly part of the Philippine territory and maritime domain.”

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario said the maps on the passport are an “excessive declaration of maritime space in violation of international law."

"The Philippines demands that China respect the territory and maritime domain of the Philippines. The action of China is contrary to the spirit of the DOC of Parties in the South China Sea particularly on the provision calling on parties to refrain from actions that complicate and escalate the dispute," del Rosario said, reading from the note verbale.

Del Rosario said he knew of the sea claims stamp in Chinese passports but he failed to raise the issue with the Chinese during the recently held East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

"It was mentioned to me briefly as I was leaving," he said.

Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez, meanwhile, said, “If we allow that, then that would mean acquiescence to their claim of the whole of the South China Sea."

Vietnam has also reportedly made a formal complaint to China about the new e-passports.

A diplomatic protest against China's 9-dash line territorial claim over the whole of West Philippine Sea was filed by the Philippines in April 2011.

The "9-dash line" refers to a series of dotted lines that formed a ring around the West Philippine Sea, which China claims is part of its territory.

The ring includes the Spratly Islands, a group of oil-rich islands disputed by 5 countries.