group of Chinese tourists arriving in Vietnam earlier this week were asked by immigration authorities to remove their shirts — which were printed with a map of China that included the infamous nine-dash line.
That line, which dates back to the 1940s, is what China now uses to exert its claim over the vast majority of the South China Sea, despite protests coming from neighboring nations like Vietnam who claim some of the territory as their own.
The 14 Chinese tourists, all dressed in the controversial t-shirts, arrived at the Cam Ranh airport in southern Vietnam on Sunday and were stopped by security at the immigration desk who asked them to take off the shirts and hand them over before leaving the airport.
Photos of the tourists wearing the shirts were soon posted online, igniting outrage across Vietnam with some calling for the tourists to be deported.
However, at the moment, it appears that local authorities aren’t quite sure how to handle the matter and are reportedly looking into the motives behind the Chinese tour group’s decision to wear the controversial shirts.
According to VnExpress, officials said that it’s illegal for someone in Vietnam to demonstrate the nine-dash-line, but there are no specific legal regulations on the books about how such a situation should be dealt with.
Though, this is certainly not the first time that something like this has happened. In an infamous incident back in 2016, a Chinese visitor to Ho Chi Minh City got her passport back from immigration to find the words “Fuck you” scribbled on two of the pages which contained maps of China including the nine-dash line.
Meanwhile, China is just as serious about its maps as Vietnam. This week US retailer Gap apologized for a t-shirt design that was spotted on sale in Canada which featured a map of China, but without either the nine-dash line or Taiwan.