Last week saw a subtle yet undeniable act of provocation by the Chinese government to regional rivals, who issued new passports that featured the disputed "nine-dash" map of Chinese territory.
The map, which shows disputed areas such as the Spratly Island chain as Chinese territory, managed to upset most regional powers in the region — including Taiwan, the Philippines, and even India.
Passports are a particularly touchy subject when it comes to maps, as when another country stamps the passport as a visa, it could be taken as a "stamp of approval" on the map featured in the passport.
According to reports in China's state run news agency Xinhua at the weekend, Vietnam border guards are refusing to stamp the passports. Instead, Vietnamese passport control offices are issuing separate visa sheets to new Chinese passport holders. Reports in Vietnamese press suggest that some of the new passports have even been stamped as "invalid".
The BBC reports that the Philippines are currently accepting the passport, but looking at other options, while India has taken to stamping its own version of the map onto passports.
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