Once again, China has demonstrated that it is fast becoming a major world power like the United States ... this time, with yet another ham-handed and needless insult to the nations which surround it.
This article appeared in yesterday's The Washington Post: "Here’s the Chinese Passport Map That’s Infuriating Much of Asia." Yes, Dear Readers, it seems that the latest high-tech Chinese passports include a map on page 8 which shows many disputed territories - including parts of India and Vietnam and the entire South China Sea - as parts of China. This is the passport page in question ...
As you might suspect, nations which have territorial disputes with their gigantic neighbor are understandably upset, and are reacting to the insulting map in different ways. At border crossings to Vietnam, officials are stapling visas to the offending page in order to cover up the map. The Indian embassy in Beijing is overstamping the page with a new visa stamp which features the Indian version of the map ... which, of course, shows disputed Himalayan territories as parts of India. Several Asian nations have filed formal complaints at the Chinese embassies in their countries, and others are expected to do so.
Why do such a deliberately provocative thing? Some observers note that the Chinese government has a sense of entitlement that grows out of a perception of itself as a country long exploited by others, and so it is perfectly okay for the Chinese to do what they believe was always done to them. The problem, of course, is that in many Asian cultures it is important to save face ... and now that the offending map has been published, backing away from it would cause an insulting loss of face for the Chinese government. This is not a good thing when you are an opaque, nuclear-armed nation with a huge army and a reputation for bullying its neighbors.
It'll be interesting to see how this plays out.
But the Chinese passport map flap raises another interesting question ... if various whiny crybaby states actually do manage to secede from the United States, what maps would they include in their passports? I imagine that Texas passports would show that nation as including large parts of Mexico, New Mexico, and other bordering states as far away as, say, New York. An independent Virginia might claim West Virginia. North and South Dakota might claim each other. It's unlikely that any newly-independent state would claim ownership of New Jersey. The possibilities are endless.
Have a good day. Visit your favorite Asian destination now, before it becomes part of China.
And come back tomorrow for Cartoon Saturday.