'The aim of China's new electronic passports is to strengthen its technological abilities and make it convenient for Chinese citizens to enter or leave the country,' said China's Foreign Ministry spokesman.
Ng Han Guan/AP
China said on Wednesday that people should not read too much into the placement of a new map in its passports that depicts claims to disputed maritime territory, after the United States said it would raise concerns with Beijing over the issue.
India, which also claims two Himalayan regions shown as Chinese territory on the map, is responding by issuing visas stamped with its own version of the borders.
"The aim of China's new electronic passports is to strengthen its technological abilities and make it convenient for Chinese citizens to enter or leave the country," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a daily news briefing.
"The issue of the maps in China's new passports should not be read too much into. China is willing to remain in touch with relevant countries and promote the healthy development of the exchange of people between China and the outside world."
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The United States, which has urged China and its Southeast Asian neighbours to agree on a code of conduct as a first step toward reducing tensions over the South China Sea, will continue to accept the new Chinese passports because they meet the standards of a legal travel document.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)