Chinese tourists caught parading illegal map through Vietnam

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A married couple riding through Vietnam on their self-made tricyle that carries a big world map containing a nine-dotted line which undermines Vietnam's sovereignty / PHOTO COURTESY OF DAN TRI

Two Chinese tourists were caught in the central city of Da Nang carrying a large map with a "U-shaped" line supporting China's baseless claims to over 80 percent of the East Sea.

Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper quoted Colonel Tran Huu Do, chief of the city police department's immigration authority, as saying on Friday that local police discovered Li Lin Xiang, 67, and his wife, Gao Ya Fan, 63, and the map when they were riding their self-made tricycle along the National Road 1 on December 25.

Besides the large world map in Chinese, they were also found carrying other smaller maps which also contained the line which undermines Vietnam's sovereignty, he said, adding that police confiscated all the maps.

Do said their vehicle was not licensed in Vietnam.

According to the tourists, they planned to bring the map with them as they traveled through 100 countries.

They had visited several Southeast Asian countries before entering Vietnam last month through Moc Bai, which borders Cambodia, in the southern province of Tay Ninh.

Online newspaper VnExpress reported that local authorities had contacted the Embassy of China regarding the case.

With the embassy's guarantee, the authorities returned the vehicle to the tourists so they could return home through Vietnam's border in the north.

The tourists' visas expire on January 15.

China and four members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei are embroiled in sovereignty disputes over the East Sea, internationally known as the South China Sea.

Beijing routinely outlines the scope of its claims with reference to the infamous nine-dotted line that takes in about 80 percent of the 3.5 million square kilometer East Sea on Chinese maps, a move emphatically rejected by international experts.

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