India is stamping its map on visas given to Chinese visitors, an Indian official said yesterday, after Beijing began issuing passports showing disputed territories - including two in India - as its own.
"We have started issuing visas with India's map as we know it," said a Foreign Ministry official who did not wish to be named.
India's tit-for-tat action comes after Beijing began issuing new passports showing Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai China - regions that New Delhi claims - as part of Chinese territory.
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid says the map showing the two areas as part of China is unacceptable.
The response comes amid already strained ties between the two Asian giants. Beijing has also included disputed islands in the South China Sea in the map outline on the new passports, angering both the Philippines and Vietnam, as well as areas including two of Taiwan's most famous scenic spots.
Early last week, the Philippine foreign secretary wrote a protest note to the Chinese embassy, and the Vietnamese government said it had also lodged its objections with Beijing.
The Hindu newspaper said the Indian government had decided not to take up the issue formally with China.
"It feels it will be better to speak through actions … [rather] than words," the newspaper quoted an unidentified government official as saying.
Beijing has attempted to play down the diplomatic fallout from the recently introduced passports, with a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman saying the maps were "not made to target any specific country".
The disputed border between India and China has been the subject of 14 rounds of fruitless talks since 1962, when the two nations fought a brief, bloody war over the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.
China's build-up of military infrastructure along the frontier has become a major source of concern for India, which increasingly sees Beijing as a longer-term threat to its security than traditional rival Pakistan.
Additional Reporting by Associated Press