Wed, Sep 03, 2003 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: New passport internationally correct

After many years of controversy, Taiwan on Monday finally started issuing passports with the word "Taiwan" on the cover. The government's primary goal behind this move is to clearly tell the international community that the passport-holder comes from a high-income, democratic nation -- not from the People's Republic of China, for which Taiwan has long been mistaken. The old version of the passport only has "Republic of China" on the cover -- a name too close to "People's Republic of China." It is no wonder that immigration officers in many countries could not figure out the true origin of the passport-holders. This has resulted in countless problems for Taiwanese people traveling abroad.

However, this wise and reasonable act has long been blindly boycotted by politicians bent on the Great China ideology. It has also come under fire from the pro-unification media, which keep on saying that adding "Taiwan" to passports will raise Beijing's ire and incur retaliatory action. As a result, the process has been jeopardized and frustrated on many occasions. Only now, under the DPP administration, have we completed a process that helps the international community distinguish Taiwanese passports from Chinese ones.

Of course, passports are in the first place an indicator of sovereignty. The government has stated that the ROC's effective jurisdiction covers only Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu, which are represented by "Taiwan." This is in accordance with history as well as the reality. There is nothing sneaky about it. Being residents of Taiwan, we must understand that the KMT's long-running claim that the ROC's territory includes Taiwan is a blatant lie. The ROC Constitution promulgated by Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) in Nanjing on January 1, 1947, does not state what areas the country's territory includes. Besides, Taiwan never sent any representatives to participate in the amending of that constitution. The imposition of this constitution on Taiwan was simply the result of the Chiang regime's despotic rule. This constitution has nothing to do with Taiwan and its people.

We need to take a look back at the earlier basis of that constitution, namely the 1936 draft constitution written by the KMT according to Sun Yat-sen's (孫中山) ideas. That version of the constitution clearly stipulated the ROC's territory. It included Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Mongolia and Tibet, for example, but not Taiwan, which was a Japanese colony at the time.

The best explanation of Taiwan's status is to be found in the San Francisco Peace Treaty, which clearly shows that Taiwan does not belong to China, Japan or any other country. In other words, Taiwan's status remains undetermined.

In light of this, former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) was correct to claim that the ROC no longer exists. The ROC as defined by that 1936 draft constitution disappeared into the dust of history just like all other Chinese dynasties. The claim that Taiwan belongs to China is a myth created by the KMT government after losing the Chinese Civil War to the Communists and beating a retreat to Taiwan. There is no official document whatsoever to prove this claim.

In light of this, using "Taiwan" to represent Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu is compatible with the nation's status and the international community's understanding. All countries that employ reason and the rule of law should welcome this pragmatic move by the Taiwan government instead of dancing to Beijing's tune.

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