MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippines has become the latest country to say it will not stamp visas in a new Chinese passport because it includes a map of the South China Sea that Manila says shows its territory.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said Wednesday that the visas will be stamped in a separate visa application form.
It said the move reinforces its protest formally conveyed to Beijing last week against China's "excessive claim over almost the entire South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea."
It said stamping the passport could be seen as "legitimizing" China's claims.
Vietnam has already said it will not stamp the passports, while Taiwan has protested against the map's maritime borders and India has rejected the map's depiction of its northern border with China. India has retaliated by issuing Chinese citizens visas embossed with New Delhi's own maps.
The United States, which is taking no side in the territorial disputes but wants to ensure safe maritime traffic in one of the world's busiest sea lanes, has said it will raise its concerns over the map with Beijing.
China's Foreign Ministry says putting the map in the passport was not directed at any particular country.