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Forbes headline on South China Sea dispute needs context

A Nov. 3 Forbes article saying China has won the South China Sea “map war” against the Philippines needs context.

The headline of the commentary by US economics professor Panos Mourdoukoutas reads:

China Wins The South China Sea Map War Against the Philippines

It created the impression that China had won sovereignty over the disputed area, leaving some readers confused or angry.

A July 12, 2016 Hague tribunal ruling invalidated China's historical claim. It ruled in favor of the Philippines' rights to a 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The Forbes article actually critiques the reversal of a 2012 Bureau of Immigration order to not stamp Chinese passports bearing the nine-dash line, a disputed demarcation used as the basis of China’s historical claim to the South China Sea.

Manila is giving in to Beijing’s ambitions to redraw the map of the South China Sea — by agreeing to once again place a visa sticker and stamp on Chinese passports printed with a nine-dash line in the South China Sea.

The BI on Dec. 3, 2012 ordered immigration personnel not to stamp Chinese passports bearing the “nine-dashed line.” Visas were to be stamped on a separate sheet of paper.

However, the BI announced Nov. 6 the resumption of stamping Chinese passports. Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said the reversal addressed security concerns raised by visas needing to be on a separate sheet of paper.

The article has 155,800 views on the Forbes website and has been shared several times on Twitter and Facebook.

Below are more examples of the reactions the article generated:

China and Taiwan are claimants to nearly all of the sea, while Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei have overlapping claims to parts of it.

China and Taiwan disregarded the arbitral ruling and sought bilateral negotiations with the Philippines. (JRC, EEM)


CNN Philippines Staff. (2019, November 6). Immigration to resume stamping China passports with nine-dash-line map. Retrieved from

Immigration to Resume Stamping on PROC passports. (2019, November 6). Retrieved from

Lee-Brago, P. (2012, December 4). Phl stops stamping China passports. Retrieved from

Permanent Court of Arbitration. (2016, July 12). An Arbitral Tribunal Constituted Under Annex VII To The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea Between The Republic Of The Philippines andThe People’s Republic Of China. Retrieved from

Philips, T., Holmes, O. & Bowcott, O. (2016, July 12). Beijing rejects tribunal's ruling in South China Sea case. Retrieved from (2012, December 3). PH starts not stamping Chinese passports. Retrieved from

Rauhala, E. (2016, July 19). China: Disregard the South China Sea ruling. The Philippines: No. Retrieved from

Torres, T. (2012, December 4). BI orders no stamping of Chinese passport. Retrieved from

Venzon, C. (2019, November 6). Philippines to resume stamping Chinese 'Nine-Dash Line' passports. Retrieved from

Vergara, R. (2019, August 30). China rejects PH arbitral victory on South China Sea anew. Retrieved from

Viray, P. L. (2019, November 6). Philippines resumes stamping on Chinese passports with 9-dash line map. Retrieved from

Yunyu, B. (2019, November 1). Manila resumes use of visa sticker, stamp on Chinese passports. Retrieved from


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