The Philippines resumed placing a visa sticker and stamp on Chinese passports on Friday, giving up its seven-year practice of refusing to stamp China's passports printed with a nine-dash line in the South China Sea.
Travel industry insiders confirmed this with the Global Times on Friday, saying the Philippine Consulate General in Guangzhou informed travel agencies of this in a notice. Philippine media said the gesture shows an improvement in bilateral ties.
A travel agent in South China's Guangdong Province told the Global Times that the travel visa to the Philippines have been changed to visa stickers. Another travel agent in Zhuhai also confirmed this and said it may due to technical reasons as it's difficult to track arrival records when stamping visas on separate documents.
In 2012, China issued new passports with its map showing the nine-dash line. Since then, the Philippine government had refused to stamp Chinese passports. Instead, they placed a stamp on an application form for Chinese citizens.
However, the sticker visa has not been fully restored all over China. A travel agency in Beijing told the Global Times on Friday that they have not received any related notice from the Philippine Embassy. They speculated that it would be applied in Guangdong first and then be expanded to Beijing, Tianjin, the Yangtze River Delta and other regions. As of press time, the Philippine Embassy and Philippine Consulate General could not be reached.
"After seven years, the Philippine government said they will resume placing stickers on and stamp Chinese passports, which shows bilateral relations have further improved," according to an article on shangbao.com.ph. The same report said the visa sticker will only be used in the new Chinese electronic passports with a chip. The old passports starting with G will not be accepted by the Philippine Embassy and Consulate in China.
Ties between China and the Philippines have warmed up in the past two years. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte repeatedly backed the China-proposed Belt and Road initiative. Tensions between the two countries over the South China Sea issue have eased. The Philippine Star newspaper reported that the Philippines and China have convened an intergovernmental steering committee to supervise projects under the two nations' joint oil and gas exploration in the West Philippine Sea.