Thu, Jul 17, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Beijing's `muddleheaded' visa rule angers MOFA

By Monique Chu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday blasted China for requiring foreign passport holders born in Taiwan or Hong Kong to put "China" as their birthplace when applying for Chinese visas.

A ministry press release last night called for Beijing to stop such action, which it said may affect overseas Taiwanese traveling on foreign passports.

Dubbing China's visa rule "muddleheaded and careless," the ministry criticized the move as a way to downgrade Taiwan's status to that of a province of China.

Since the government has decided to put the word "Taiwan" in Romanized script on passport covers starting Sept. 1, some ministry officials interpreted Beijing's new visa rule as a retaliatory gesture.

The ministry said if Beijing refuses to issue visas to foreign passport holders because of their place of birth, it would be a discriminatory act against those nations that issued the passports.

"It will then become a wanton offense to the sovereignty of the nations that have issued the passports," the ministry said.

The ministry's comments came one day after China's Foreign Ministry reportedly said it has informed other countries of its visa rule for immigrants from Taiwan and Hong Kong who holding a passport from another country.

According to a report by the Central News Agency (CNA) on Tuesday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry has begun requiring foreign passport holders originally from Taiwan or Hong Kong to list China as their place of birth.

The report said China considers people who cite their birthplace as "Taipei, Taiwan," or "Hong Kong" are implying that Taiwan and Hong Kong are sovereign states, which would violate its "one China" principle.

Asked whether his country had notified its nationals of Beijing's new rule, Weldon Epp, a spokesman for the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei, said: "Canada, like any other country, has the responsibility to advise Canadian citizens of conditions which may affect them while traveling abroad."

Canadian immigration official Suzanne Meunier in Ottawa confirmed that China notified Canada that immigrants from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau should list their birthplace as China on visa application.

She said Canadian passport processors are telling such immigrants to pay attention to Beijing's new visa rule to avoid being rejected when they apply for Chinese visas.

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