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Chinese passports to get chipped

Great wall of biometrics for international travellers

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China has updated the technology it uses to secure its passports, with chip-equipped documents to be issued from March 15th.

People’s Daily reports that the nation’s Ministry of Public Security has noted the 90-odd other nations to have adopted chip-equipped travel documents and decided China needed to play at the same level. Automated immigration checks for chipped passports will follow.

The official Q&A from the Ministry on the new passports says China will use the same smart-card based chip technology adopted elsewhere and that only Chinese authorities will be able to read much of the data they store. That will include a signature, photograph and fingerprint. Applicants for the new passports must submit the latter, unless they are under 16 years of age and their parents disapprove of the procedure. China will therefore create a database of the biometric identifiers of passport holders. The new passports will also use “colorless fluorescent printing, shaped rainbow printing, multi-level, multi-color wiring, gravure luster ink, laser perforation and high-resolution holographic protection film, the announcement says (in translation, via. Google).”

Only ten million Chinese citizens currently have passports, but their numbers are swelling by 20% each year. ®

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