Fri, Jul 18, 2003 - Page 1 News List

US can't be arm-twisted on `place of birth' issue

CNA , WASHINGTON

US officials said on Wednesday that demanding naturalized Taiwanese-American citizens' passports use the word "China" instead of "Taiwan" for their place of birth needs Congressional approval.

State Department officials said they have not received any such request from Beijing, adding that if they do, making the change would require the consent of Congress, meaning it would require new legislation.

Judging from the strong and prevalent support that the US Congress has shown to Taiwan, there is little possibility that it would pass a bill to change a 1994 law to meet Beijing's demand, an official from the Formosan Association of Public Affairs (FAPA) said.

According to a State Department official who answered CNA questions on condition of anonymity, before 1994, the US government used the designation "China" for place of birth for naturalized citizens from both Taiwan and China.

However, a law was passed in 1994 giving such citizens the right to choose for themselves whether to use "China" or "Taiwan" for their place of birth in their passports, the official noted.

The 1994 law was passed after strenuous lobbying by Taiwanese activist groups in the US, according to the FAPA official.

The State Department official stressed that on passport application forms applicants are asked to fill in their "place of birth," rather than their "nation of birth."

The official would not speculate on how Washington would respond to a request by Beijing for the passport change.

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