Immigration enforces new rule on Chinese passport stamping
The online news portal of TV5
MANILA, Philippines - The Bureau of Immigration has started to implement a Department of Foreign Affairs directive not to stamp Philippine visas of any kind on all regular passports issued by the People’s Republic of China (PROC), as a countermeasure to Beijing’s issuance of new microchipped passports showing a map including disputed territory.
Under DFA Foreign Service Circular (FSC) No.211-12, the visa shall be stamped on the visa application form No.2 along with the PROC national’s valid passport at the immigration counter upon arrival in the Philippines.
The Bureau of Immigration personnel at the NAIA Terminal 1 today processed the first batch of PROC nationals coming into the country--- 10 passengers from China Southern flight CZ3091 coming in at 11:10am.
The BI is now implementing the circular in all ports of entry based on immigration circular dated December 3, 2012 by Commissioner Ricardo David.
It said that in view of the Foreign Service Circular and pursuant to section 3 of the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940, as amended, concerned immigration personnel shall refrain from placing any immigration stamp on the PROC passport and instead stamp it on the back of the application form bearing the visa, to be attached to the holder’s passport.
However, diplomatic, official and service passports from PROC shall remain unaffected by the said Foreign Service Circular (FSC) No.211-12.
The Philippines protested last November 2, 2012 China’s decision to print on its new e-passport the image of the controversial 9-Dash line showing its claim over almost the whole South China Sea. The new design was immediately protested by several countries led by Vietnam, which started the practice of stamping its visas on a separate document in order not to signal assent to China’s claim over the disputed territory.
Taiwan, which Beijing considers a mere province, also protested because the map included two very popular tourist zones in Taiwan.
The furor over the e-passports was soon followed by an announcement by Beijing that it authorized authorities in Hainan province to board and seize foreign vessels passing through what it deems its territory. Vietnam and the Philippines protested, and the United States said it was cause for concern owing to the threat to freedom of navigation—a concern shared by another ASEAN member, Singapore. On Tuesday, India said it was prepared—and preparing—to deploy naval vessels if necessary to ensure maritime freedom for its ships of commerce.
The latest to express concern over the threat to freedom of navigation are the European Union and Germany.
The South China Sea accounts for about one third of all maritime commercial routes in the world.