Taiwan Debates Barring Holders of New China Passports


Taiwan will discuss whether to deny entry to holders of new Chinese passports with maps showing two of the island's most famous spots as part of Chinese territory, a top official said Thursday.

Wang Yu-chi, chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council which is the top China policy-making body, told parliament that relevant government units will review the matter within a week.

Opposition lawmakers have demanded the government bar Chinese visitors who use the new computer-chipped passports bearing a map that covers Sun Moon Lake and Cingshui Cliff, both popular tourist destinations in Taiwan.

Taiwan has protested the controversial new passports, with President Ma Ying-jeou calling on China not to "unilaterally damage the status quo of the hard-fought stability" between the two sides.

China still regards Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary, even though the island has ruled itself since the end of a civil war in 1949.

Beijing also infuriated its southern neighbors with the new passports showing various islands in the South China Sea as being in its territory despite overlapping sovereignty claims.

Vietnam and the Philippines have refused to stamp the passports. India has started stamping its own map onto visas for Chinese visitors, because the Beijing passports also show disputed border areas between the two countries.

Beijing has tried to downplay the diplomatic fallout, with the foreign ministry arguing the maps were "not made to target any specific country".

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