Sydney: Vietnam and the Philippines have protested against China`s decision to include disputed South China Sea islands on maps printed inside new passports issued by the country.
The Philippines ‘strongly protests’ against China`s move, its foreign affairs ministry spokesman, Raul Hernandez, said.
“The action of China is contrary to the spirit of the declaration of conduct of parties in the South China Sea,” Hernandez said.
Vietnam`s government lodged a formal complaint with the Chinese embassy in Hanoi, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
According to the paper, three separate pages in the passports include China`s so-called "nine-dash" map of the sea, first published in 1947, that extends hundreds of miles south from China`s Hainan Island to the equatorial waters off the coast of Borneo.
Vietnam and the Philippines reject the map as a basis for sharing oil, gas and fish in the waters.
The map includes the Spratly island chain, which is the subject of overlapping claims by China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines.
According to the paper, China argues that the explorer Zheng He, whose sea adventures predate Christopher Columbus, crossed the South China Sea during the Ming Dynasty and cites historical maps that long predate the founding of the People`s Republic in 1949.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry website says the earliest discovery of the Spratlys, called Nansha in China and Troung Sa in Vietnam, can be traced back 2000 years to the Han dynasty.