China plays down row over disputed map



Beijing: China on Monday sought to allay the concerns of India and some Southeast Asian countries over disputed maps in its new e-passport, saying it is not a "big issue" and should not be overplayed.

Asked about problems relating to disputed maps in the e-passports, Director-General of Chinese Foreign Ministry Qin Gang who briefed the Indian media about the talks between National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon and Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo, said it is not an issue to be overplayed.

Qin, who briefed the media at the end of second round of talks, said the issue did not figure in the deliberations.

It is not clear whether it figured in the third round of talks which took place later in the evening.

India countered China's move by stamping the visas with India's official map nullifying any perception that granting visas on Chinese passport with disputed maps amounted to endorsement of Beijing's position.

Vietnam, which along the Philippines objected to Chinese stand, started issuing stapled visas, similar to what China has issued to residents of Jammu and Kashmir in 2009 which was subsequently rolled back after India's objections.

Asked whether China accepted India stamping the visas with India's map, Qin said "that is the way for Indian side to express. Our passport is not targeted at any particular country."

"Both sides know each other's positions well.

We have fully explained to other parties, including India, both sides need to work for a smooth travelling of citizens to countries," he said.

To a question why the map was printed on the passport he said "there is no particular purpose. We issue the passports in accordance to relevant regulation of International Civil Aviation Organisation."

PTI