Phl stops stamping China passports

Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) - December 4, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines started implementing yesterday the new procedure that Philippine visas will not be stamped on Chinese passports bearing a map showing China’s claim over the entire South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea and parts of Philippine territory.

Raul Hernandez, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman, said the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and all Philippine diplomatic posts worldwide have been provided with circulars to implement the new visa procedure.

“This new procedure will also include the old Chinese passports,” he said. “It is a uniform implementation so as not to create confusion in our foreign service posts and BI offices.”

Hernandez said Philippine diplomatic posts and the BI started implementing the policy to avoid the country being misconstrued as legitimizing China’s 9-dash line map.

“The DFA already sent a circular to our embassies and consulates worldwide to implement the new procedure on stamping Philippine visas on the visa application forms submitted by Chinese nationals who wish to visit the Philippines, effective immediately.”

Visas are stamped on separate visa application forms rather than on the passports. Immigration stamps are placed on a separate document given to Chinese visitors entering the Philippines.

Through this action, the Philippines reinforced its protest against China’s excessive claim over almost the entire South China Sea.

The Philippines views the expansive 9-dash claim as inconsistent with international law, specifically the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

China has enraged several neighbors – the Philippines, Vietnam, India and Taiwan – with a few dashes on a map printed in its e-passports that show its claim over the entire South China Sea.

Meanwhile, China’s endeavor to become a maritime power is not intended to achieve maritime supremacy and has nothing to do with seeking hegemony or outspreading its naval power, according to Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng.

“That does not mean that China is aiming at expanding its presence at sea, nor at marine hegemony,” Geng said in a press conference in Beijing yesterday.

Geng said to build itself into a maritime power, China does not aim to engage in maritime expansion, still less to seek maritime hegemony, but to enhance China’s capacity for exploiting marine resources, develop marine economy, safeguard China’s maritime rights and interests and ensure sustainable economic and social development.

“China’s stance of safeguarding the country’s legitimate sovereign rights and interests should not be regarded as a hardline approach,” he said.

Geng responded to the question concerning the statement that China will be built into a maritime power in the report delivered by Chinese President Hu Jintao at the opening session of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) last month.

Chinese state-run media Xinhua said the spokesman further denied interpretations that this position indicates a more hardline approach by China in its marine sovereignty claims, such as over the Senkaku (Diaoyu) Islands.

Geng said China will resolutely protect its sovereignty, security and development interests and will never yield to outside pressure.

“Safeguarding the country’s marine rights and interests is one of the military’s important duties and the army will well perform its duties under the country’s deployment,” he said.

Geng said the Chinese military advocates and implements the concept of “harmonious ocean,” abides by the Charter of the United Nations, the UNCLOS and other universally recognized norms governing international relations, actively participates in international maritime security dialogues and cooperation, and is willing to make joint efforts with the armed forces of various countries to safeguard maritime security.

The diplomatic ideas proposed at the 18th CPC National Congress are China’s successful experiences in reform and opening up over the past 30 years, the guideline of foreign affairs in the new period, and a full embodiment of the integration of China’s diplomatic experiences and innovation.

The highlight is keeping pace with the times and blazing new trails, showing brand-new diplomatic views.

The diplomatic ideas proposal provides that China will further enhance its status and role in the world.

The country has more than 3 million square kilometers of territorial waters and 18,000 kilometers of coastline.


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