PHL won't stamp entry visas on Chinese e-passports bearing controversial map

November 28, 2012 10:58 pm 

By Michaela del Callar

MANILA, Nov. 28 -– The Philippine government on Wednesday said it will not stamp entry visas on new Chinese passports bearing its controversial nine-dash line map that overlaps with Manila’s sovereign territory facing the disputed South China Sea.

Philippine immigration authorities will instead stamp it on a separate visa application form, the Department of Foreign Affairs said.

“Further to the Philippine protest against the inclusion of the 9-dash line map in the Chinese e-passport which covers an area that is part of the Philippine territory and maritime domain, the Philippines will no longer stamp its visas on the Chinese e-passport,” a DFA statement said.

Manila’s action, the DFA said, “reinforces its protest against China’s excessive claim over almost the entire South China Sea including the West Philippine Sea.”

“This action is being undertaken to avoid the Philippines being misconstrued as legitimizing the 9-dash line every time a Philippine visa is stamped on such Chinese e-passport,” it said. “We are preparing for an early implementation of the aforementioned action.”

The Philippines, the DFA said, “views said expansive nine-dash claim as inconsistent with international law,” specifically the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, or UNCLOS.

UNCLOS gives maritime nations the right to manage, explore and exploit features in areas within a 200-nautical mile limit from its coast.

China, Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have been locked in decades of disputes over the waters, referred to as West Philippine Sea by Manila.

The Philippines, Vietnam and China have particularly figured in separate fresh altercations last year and this year that have sparked Asian and international concerns over a possible major armed clashed that could threaten access to and the passage of commercial and cargo ships in the busy waters.

China and the Philippines have been engaged in a dangerous standoff at a Manila-claimed shoal for more than three months that began on April 10 when ships from Beijing prevented Philippine authorities from accosting Chinese fishermen poaching in Bajo de Masinloc or Scarborough Shoal situated 124 nautical miles from the nearest Philippine coastal town of Masinloc, Zambales.

The standoff temporarily ended when President Benigno S. Aquino III ordered the withdrawal of the last two Philippine government vessels facing off with several Chinese ships on July 15 due to bad weather. Chinese vessels have remained in the area.

Philippine and Chinese diplomats have resolved to end the disputes peacefully as Manila reiterated its call on Beijing to respect Manila’s sovereignty over Bajo de Masinloc. (PNA)

RMA/MDC/UTB

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