India hits back at China's controversial new passports with visas


India disputes the borders shown on a map in new Chinese passports and has begun issuing visas with a map of its own. Here, a man in Beijing displays his visa for the US.


China Photos

India is going tit-for-tat in response to China's decision to issue passports that show swathes of disputed territory as Chinese.

The Indian embassy in Beijing has begun covering up the controversial map that appears as a watermark on the pages of the latest Chinese passports with a specially redesigned visa that displays India's version of the borders, Reuters reported.

The "correct map," according to Indian officials, shows the two Himalayan regions of Aksai Chin, in Kashmir, and Arunachal Pradesh, on the border with Chinese-run Tibet, as part of India.

The map in Chinese passports puts both areas within China.

It also designates the entire South China Sea up to the coastline of the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and a small part of Indonesia as Chinese territory, a contentious claim that has prompted formal protests from at least two of China's other neighbors.

"We are not prepared to accept it" either, India's foreign minister, Salman Khurshid, has said.

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According to the Times of India, New Delhi complained to the Chinese Foreign Ministry "a few weeks ago," but got no response.

The Himalayan borders are the subject of a long-running dispute between India and China, a dispute that multiple rounds of talks have never yet resolved.

Such disputes mean that that maps can be a sensitive issue throughout Asia, the Financial Times says:

"Even in democratic India, maps in foreign publications are sometimes blacked out by censors if they do not conform to the country’s territorial claims over areas disputed with China and Pakistan."

So far Vietnam, the Philippines and Taiwan have lodged formal complaints over the passports, the BBC said.

China's foreign ministry, meanwhile, has called for the matter to be dealt with in a "level-headed and rational manner," the Times of India reported.

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