India, China in passport, map row again

Nathula Pass

India and China are once again locked in a war over maps, with Beijing showing Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin as its territories in its new e-passports. In response, New Delhi has started issuing visas with India's map stamped on the visa stickers, including both Arunachal and Aksai Chin.

The face-off began a few weeks ago, after New Delhi discovered the maps in the e-passports of Chinese nationals visiting India. Instead of rejecting the passports altogether, a "fairly considered" decision was taken to issue visa stickers with a stamp of the Indian map on it.

The Indian Embassy in Beijing raised the issue through a demarche with the Chinese Foreign Ministry and also told them about its decision to stamp the visas with an Indian map. Since issuing new visa stickers and aligning the same with the safety parameters would have been a longer process, a decision was taken to just stamp them with the Indian maps.

The Chinese passports with Arunachal, Aksai Chin in its territory are being issued so far only in the case of normal citizens. There has been no such case as far as diplomatic or official passports go.

Incidentally, the new outline map on China e-passports also includes Taiwan and South China Sea in its territory, leaving Beijing's other neighbours such as the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia too infuriated. Taiwan, the Philippines and Vietnam have all protested against the new map.

About three years ago, China had created a diplomatic row by issuing stapled visas to residents of Jammu and Kashmir, terming it a "disputed territory", while it has always denied visas to those hailing from Arunachal.

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