The information was provided to Tuoi Tre Newspaper by Lieutenant Colonel Tran Viet Huynh, head of the checkpoint at the said border gate in Lao Cai Province.

On November 23, out of nearly 200 Chinese tourists going through procedures to enter Vietnam through Lao Cai, four such passports were stamped as invalid. Vietnamese authorities however, issued them visas on their separate travel permit cards.

This means although the new passports themselves are invalid, their holders are still granted entry with other documents.

Meanwhile, the checkpoint No 7 at Mong Cai border gate in Quang Ninh province only issued separate (loose-leaf) visas to Chinese nationals holding the new controversial passports.

“Mong Cai border guards only issued separate visas to Chinese nationals entering Vietnam with e-passports containing the cow’s tongue line 9-dotted line. When issuing separate visas, competent authorities will not have to stamp on such passports, through which we assert the non-recognition of Chinese cow’s tongue line under any forms”, a representative of the checkpoint told Tuoi Tre.

For now, they have not complained but “in the long term, the Chinese will feel inconvenient with the separate visas and will ask their authorities to change”.

Earlier, Juris Doctor Le Minh Phieu of Vietnam’s East Sea Research Fund said that the 9-dash line violates international law, especially the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea – UNCLOS.

Dr. Phieu said if Vietnamese agencies stamp on those passports and allow Chinese nationals holding such passports to enter, China then could claim this as Vietnam’s implicit recognition of its illegitimate territorial demands.

So, Vietnam should cooperate with other ASEAN countries to find an effective means of protest. ASEAN countries, especially those falling victim to China’s expansionist policy, need to deny entry to Chinese citizens who hold such passports, he added.

According to Le Vinh Truong, also of the Fund, China is “waging psychological warfare”. They tried to brainwash their citizens with wrong ideas, wrong facts, repeating them again and again in an effort to turn them into the “truth”, he added.

To cope, Truong advised Vietnamese authorities to stamp on such passports the words “Vietnam does not recognize the U-shaped line” in both English and Vietnamese.

On an official note, Vietnamese foreign spokesman Luong Thanh Nghi affirmed in Hanoi on November 22 that the act violated Vietnam’s sovereignty over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagoes as well as its sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction over related waters in the East Sea.

Representatives from the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry have met with representatives of the Chinese Embassy in Hanoi to hand a diplomatic note requesting China to annul the contents printed in the passport.

India replies in kind

According to Reuters, India is stamping its own map on visas it issues to holders of the new Chinese passports. China's new microchip-equipped passports contain a map that also shows as its territory two Himalayan regions that India claims.

"The correct map of India is stamped on to visas being issued on such passports," Reuters quoted one of the sources as saying.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry Hua Chunying told a daily news briefing that China has selected the maps as background on the inside pages of the passports issued by the Ministry of Public Security in May.

"The design is not targeting a specific country," Hua said. "We hope that the relevant countries take a rational and sensible attitude ... to avoid causing interference with normal Sino-foreign personnel exchanges."

Tuoi Tre - November 25, 2012