HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — A group of Chinese tourists wearing T-shirts depicting the country’s territorial claims in the disputed South China Sea has sparked anger in Vietnam.
The tourists arrived at the Cam Ranh international airport on Sunday night and after going through the immigration, took off their coats to reveal T-shirts featuring the so-called “nine-dash line” demarcating Beijing claims to nearly the entire South China Sea. Vietnam is one of the rival claimants.
State-run Tuoi Tre newspaper reported that Vietnamese authorities confiscated the T-shirts.
Immigration officials at the airport declined to comment Wednesday.
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Some readers commenting on the newspaper’s website have called for the deportation of the Chinese tourists.
“Deport them immediately, put them on the blacklist and ban them from entering in the future,” reader Huynh Tan Dat wrote.
More than 4 million Chinese arrived in Vietnam last year, accounting for about 30 percent of total foreign arrivals in the Southeast Asian country.
It was not the first time the Vietnamese were enraged over the controversial maps. In 2016, a border agent at the Ho Chi Minh City airport defaced a Chinese passport with the words “f— you” scribbled twice over maps of the contested South China Sea.
China issued new passports starting 2012 with revised maps to include the “nine-dash line.” Some Vietnamese border agents have begun to issue separate visas rather than stamp Chinese passports to demonstrate that they do not recognize the new map.
China and Vietnam have had long-running territorial disputes in the South China Sea. Other claimants include the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.