Thu, Feb 21, 2019 - Page 8 News List


‘Taiwan’ in the UK

As reported in the Taipei Times (“UK legislators fight for Taiwan name,” Feb 9, page 1), a group of more than 40 UK legislators, associated with the British-Taiwanese All-Party Parliamentary Group issued a joint letter addressed to the International English Language Testing System, urging the British Council and its global partners to change their Web site designations from “Taiwan, China” to simply “Taiwan.”

Quoting a statement by British Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Mark Field from July 10 last year, the legislators asserted that the “Taiwan, China” designation is inaccurate and misleading, and arguably wrong, because since World War II, the UK has not recognized Taiwan’s incorporation into China’s national territory.

Moreover, it is contrary to the UK’s longstanding policy of referring to Taiwan as simply “Taiwan.”

Under its “one China” policy, the UK recognizes the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as the sole legitimate government of China. Accordingly, it goes without saying that only the PRC has the authority to use the nomenclature “China” on any official paperwork and documentation.

However, in my own experiences in dealing with UK officialdom, I have stood behind PRC citizens in British customs, and I saw that their passports (with covers emblazoned “People’s Republic of China”) and the passports of my Taiwanese group (with covers emblazoned “Republic of China”) were both accepted by the UK immigration officials.

I have also confirmed with other Taiwanese that they have had similar experiences with British immigration. Carefully reflecting on these occurrences, I feel justified in stating that at present the UK follows a “two China” policy and not a “one China” policy.

Hence, I am wondering if the British Office Taipei, along with the British Council, could urge the above-mentioned group of more than 40 UK legislators and the British-

Taiwanese All-Party Parliamentary Group to issue joint letters to the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, HM Revenue & Customs and other relevant British government departments, urging them to truly implement the UK’s so-called “one China” policy, and require that passports carried by Taiwanese persons cannot be marked with the word “China.”

I am certain that the UK’s implementation of such a policy would be welcomed by most Taiwanese, who have long urged the international community to stop referring to Taiwan as part of China.

For Taiwan passports to be marked with the words “Taiwan” and “China” is inaccurate and misleading, and arguably wrong.

As an additional historical reference, I point to the comments of Sir Anthony Eden in discussing the Cairo and Potsdam Declarations, where he stated that there was no transfer of Taiwan’s sovereignty to China at either the 1945 surrender ceremonies, or with the coming into force of the San Francisco Peace Treaty in 1952.

Tom Chang

Taiwan Autonomy

Foundation secretary-general


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