Anyone travelling on new Chinese passports will now have an Indian visa stamped with a map showing Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin as part of India.
This comes as an apparent retaliation to Beijing’s new passports that show these areas as part of China in a map on the watermark, a
security feature of embossing an image in passports and currency notes.
In a step that shows China's aggressive territorial claims, the new map shows disputed territories in the South China Sea, such as Paracel and Spratly islands, with Vietnam as well as the Philippines. Both countries have lodged strong protests with China.
While India has an unsettled land boundary with China, most southeast Asian countries have maritime disputes with China.
The 10-member Asean group is now discussing a code of conduct in South China Sea to rein in the Asian economic giant.
Official maps issued by China have historically included territories, both land and sea, in dispute with India and the other neighbours, but that this map is now included in the passport could require other nations to endorse those claims by stamping their official visa seals - at a symbolic level at least.
It is learnt that India hasn't diplomatically taken up the issue, noticed for the first time some three weeks ago. Instead, it calibrated an action of stamping its own official map on the visa issued on these Chinese passports. The matter was also not raised when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met with his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of East Asia and related summits in Cambodia early this week.
As reported by HT first, China and India were in a diplomatic row over public sector OVL's exploration of two oil blocks in Vietnam in the backwaters of Paracel Islands in South China Sea. Though India had withdrawn from block 127, it's staying on in 128 after a rethink.
China has long claimed territorial rights over the whole of Arunachal Pradesh that India considers as an integral part of its territory.
"The outline map of China on the passport is not directed against any particular country," foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said. Meanwhile, strategic economic dialogue between India and China
will take place early this week after which dates will be finalised for the national security adviser and special representative on boundary talks to visit Beijing.