China faced furious protests from its neighbours today after it issued revised passports that show it staking claim to the entire South China Sea and Taiwan.
Inside the new passports an outline of China printed in the upper left corner includes Taiwan and the sea.
The change highlights China's long-standing claim on the South China Sea in its entirety, though parts of the waters are also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia.
China's official maps have long included Taiwan and the South China Sea as Chinese territory, but including those in its passports would force other nations to tacitly endorse those claims by affixing their official seals to the documents.
"This is total ignorance of reality and only provokes disputes," spluttered Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, the Cabinet-level body responsible for ties with Beijing.
Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said in Manila that he sent a note to the Chinese embassy that his country "strongly protests" the image.
He said China's claims include an area that is "clearly part of the Philippines' territory and maritime domain."
The Vietnamese government said it had also sent a diplomatic note to the Chinese Embassy in Hanoi demanding that Beijing remove the "erroneous content" printed in the passport.
In Beijing, the Foreign Ministry said the new passport was issued based on international standards.
"The outline map of China on the passport is not directed against any particular country," said spokeswoman Hua Chunying.