Updated: Jan 20, 2020
The Philippines will resume stamping Chinese passports featuring a map of the heavily disputed nine-dash line within the South China Sea, the country’s Bureau of Immigration said.
The practice of stamping Chinese passports was halted seven years ago amid growing tensions in the sea after a standoff between Filipino and Chinese vessels set off a chain of diplomatic incidents. At the time, China introduced a new type of passport with the historic nine-dash line that marks its claim to islands also claimed by the Philippines. Refusing to endorse the passport, customs officials were instead ordered to stamp a separate sheet of paper inserted into passports.
The Bureau of Immigration said Wednesday it had now reversed the policy. We have “expressed security concerns over the old practice because sheets of papers can easily be lost,” the bureau’s commissioner, Jaime Morente, said in a statement.
Southeast Asian countries have clashed with China over maritime claims in the region, where Beijing’s so-called nine-dash-line encompasses waters the U.S. has said could contain unexploited hydrocarbons worth $2.5 trillion.
Challenging what is technically the largest navy in the world, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte told Asian leaders in Bangkok this week he wanted negotiations on the regional Code of Conduct concluded “as soon as possible,” according to a statement on Monday.