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Philippines accepts new Chinese passports

Backtracks on plan owing to high number of Chinese tourists seeking visa

Gulf News

Manila: The Philippine government has decided to accept the passports of Chinese nationals requesting for visa. The passports depict a map that includes China’s claim of the entire South China Sea.

“Visa processing for Chinese e-passport continues its normal course,” Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said, when asked if his department has rejected the passports of Chinese nationals following the government’s protest and note verbale sent to the Chinese Embassy in Manila in reaction to China’s newly-issued electronic passports.

The number of Chinese nationals requesting for tourist visa to the Philippines has “suddenly reached a very high number,” said a source, adding this was the reason why the Philippine government has decided not to act on its protest against the new Chinese passports.

The government has been trying to lure tourists to the Philippines to raise more revenue.

China, Taiwan and Vietnam claim the whole of the South China Sea based on their historical rights over the sea-lane. Brunei, Malaysia and Philippines claim some parts of the Spratly Archipelago in the South China Sea, based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) which grants countries 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone starting from their shores.

Vietnam and the Philippines have been embroiled with China’s flexing of maritime and naval might in the South China Sea.

Four of the claimants belong to the 10-member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).