China has started issuing new, high-tech passports which contain an electronic chip that includes the holder's fingerprints, signature and photographs.
The new passports will help "maintain State security and facilitate citizens' traveling abroad," said the Ministry of Public Security in Beijing.
"It uses advanced anti-counterfeiting technologies, including special ink and holographic images. It's pretty much like the technologies used in biometric passports adopted in other countries," a police officer surnamed Tang with the accreditation section of the passport office in Beijing, told the Global Times.
The ministry said there are more than 90 countries that use biometric passports to fight fraud and protect border security.
Some people, however, worry that too much personal information is contained in the new passport.
"With extensive personal data stored in it, people could know everything about you, which is a problem everywhere in the world," said Jaap Kreeftenberg, who travels with an e-passport from the Netherlands, which adopted biometric passports in 2006.
"Overall, I think it's a positive move in the long run as it will make global traveling easier and faster," Kreeftenberg, who was doing business at the Beijing Exit-Entry Administration (BEEA) office, told the Global Times.
A local resident surnamed Li became the first to apply for an e-passport.
"I decided to get a new one because the e-passport is safer to travel with. It only takes an extra 30 seconds to take your fingerprints," said Li, adding that the e-passport is also more convenient as he will be able to use it at self-serve checkpoints instead of waiting in long queues.
Lin Song, media officer of BEEA, said there is no extra charge for an e-passport and the citizens will not need to apply until their current passport expires.
"The system is aiming to benefit e-passport holders by providing a simple way of going through customs checks," said Lin.