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Vietnam visa for Chinese passport holders needs to know

Separate on-arrival visas are issued to holders of Chinese passports that feature the nine-dash line that represents China’s illegal claim to the East Vietnam Sea, as Vietnamese border control officers refuse to stamp the books.

The historic ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration on Tuesday has dismissed China’s absurd claim to the East Vietnam Sea, which is expressed through an imaginary nine-dash demarcation line covering almost the entire waterway.

Thousands of these illegal lines, however, are sent en masse to Vietnam through Chinese passports, of which they are printed on several pages in an attempt by the Chinese government to legitimize their unlawful claim.

Mong Cai International Border Gate in the northern Vietnamese province of Quang Ninh is one of the busiest border gates in the country, through which up to 3,000 Chinese nationals pass daily to get into Vietnam for travel, work, and business.

Since 2012, the border defense force and police at the gate have detected a new design of the Chinese passport, of which the nine-dash line is printed on several pages.

Vietnam border control officers have since practiced a consistent policy of refusing to stamp such passports and issuing a separate visa on arrival for their holders for use within Vietnam’s territory.

Holders of such passports have to agree to use a separate visa issued by Vietnam, without getting an entry stamp on their passports,” Tran Ngoc Tuan, director of a travel agency in Mong Cai City, said. “We explain to them that Vietnam would not put a stamp on their passports because the nine-dash line there has no legal value.”

Speaking to Tuoi Tre newspaper on Thursday, Vice Chairman of the Quang Ninh People’s Council Nguyen Xuan Ky said the nine-dash line is only included in popular passports, as it has not been found in official passports.

“By issuing separate visas, Vietnamese authorities can avoid directly stamping the passports, thus demonstrating Vietnam’s stance of not recognizing the nine-dash line in any form,” Ky said.

Similarly, a border control officer at Phu Quoc International Airport on Phu Quoc Island, located of the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang, said the airport checks in around 1,000 Chinese tourists every week, and those who carry a nine-dash-line passport are required to fill out a separate entry declaration in order to pass through border checks, as the island has a visa exemption policy for foreign tourists.

A senior officer from the Ho Chi Minh City border police department said Chinese passports have been found containing images of the illegitimate nine-dash line printed on pages 8, 24, and 46 in recent years.

Customs officers at Da Nang International Airport in the central city of Da Nang have also confiscated many maps carried by Chinese passengers featuring the nine-dash line, as well as publications where Truong Sa (Spratly) and Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelagoes are not included in Vietnam’s territory.

For any nine-dash line passports that have already been stamped by Vietnamese border control officers by mistake, they will be checked and stamped with the “voided” sign upon the holders’ re-entry.

Vietnam is not alone in the fight for justice, as India and the Philippines have also voiced their objection to Chinese passports that make false territorial claims.

“The Philippines strongly opposes the inclusion of the nine-dash line in passports because it covers a body of water which is clearly a part of the Philippine territory and waters,” Philippine Spokesperson Albert del Rosario said in a statement.

Former Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid also deemed “unacceptable” those Chinese passports that feature the two Indian states of Arunachai Pradesh and Aksai Chin as belonging to China’s territory.

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