Taiwan yesterday protested against the mainland for printing maps and pictures of the island in its new passports, calling their inclusion not only provocative but harmful to cross-strait relations.
President Ma Ying-jeou also urged Beijing to refrain from upsetting the hard-won peace and stability between the two sides.
The Mainland Affairs Council, Taiwan's top mainland policy planning body, said two scenic spots - Sun Moon Lake and Clear Water Cliff - pictured inside the new passports were part of the "Republic of China territory not under the jurisdiction of the mainland".
"Inclusion of our territory and pictures of our scenic spots … is a provocative act that would not only damage the mutual trust steadfastly established by our two sides in recent years, but also hurt the feelings of the 23 million people in Taiwan," the council said.
The new 10-year passports carry pictures of the two highly popular Taiwanese tourist attractions along with the maps featuring a "nine-dash line" that designates a large part of the South China Sea as mainland territory.
The nine dashes enclose the disputed Spratly Islands, thought to be rich in undersea oil and other resources and claimed in part or wholly by the mainland, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
The council said the government of the mainland-friendly Ma has found the act "highly unacceptable".
It called on the mainland to face the reality of the sovereign existence of the Republic of China - Taiwan's official title. It said the two sides should put aside disputes and work towards peaceful and stable development across the Taiwan Strait.
Taiwan has mended fences with the mainland since Ma took office as president in 2008 and adopted a policy to engage Beijing.
The contentious Spratlys map outline also drew criticism from the Philippines and Vietnam, which said it would only further escalate regional tensions.
In response, China's foreign ministry said the outline of the map was not targeted at specific countries.
It added that Beijing would communicate with relevant nations over the issue and promote the "healthy development of contact".