The Philippines has joined Vietnam in refusing to stamp China's new electronic passports because they contain maps that show almost all of the South China Sea as Chinese territory, Voice of America reported. The Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan say parts of the South China Sea belong to them.
More from GlobalPost: New Chinese passports criticized by Vietnam and the Philippines
The Philippine foreign ministry said it wanted to avoid “legitimizing” the map by stamping the passports, VOA reported. Instead, officials said, they would stamp visas for Chinese visitors carrying the new passport on a separate piece of paper.
Vietnam began issuing separate visa sheets to new Chinese passport holders rather than stamping inside the pages last week, Xinhua News Agency reported.
India has also objected to the map, which depicts two Indian-controlled Himalayan areas as Chinese territory, the Associated Press reported. Last week, Indian passport officials began covering up the map in Chinese passports with a visa design that shows Aksai Chin, in Kashmir, and Arunachal Pradesh, on the border with Chinese-run Tibet, within India’s borders.
The controversy has grown large enough that, on Tuesday, US officials said Washington planned to raise concerns with Beijing over the map because it’s causing "tension and anxiety" among its neighbors, the AP reported.
According to the AP:
The US has no territorial claim itself but says it has a national interest in the stability of a region vital to global trade.