Sun, Jul 20, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Canada issues statement on China's new visa rules

By Monique Chu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Canadian government has issued a statement saying China's new visa rules requesting Canadians born in Taiwan, Hong Kong or Macau to put "China" as their place of birth won't affect Canada's passport policy, officials confirmed yesterday.

Jeffrey Kau (高泉金), deputy director-general of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Ottawa, in a phone interview with the Taipei Times yesterday confirmed the statement on Thursday by Canada's Passport Office.

"The Government of Canada has taken note of China's new visa rules. These new rules in no way require a change in Canada's passport policy," said the statement available at the agency's Web site.

"In order to facilitate travel for Canadians born in Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan, Canadian passports are issued with the place of birth with no country code," the statement said.

"Although the inclusion in the passport of the applicant's place of birth is optional, it must be provided on the application form," the statement added.

The statement came as the first written clarification of Ottawa's stance in light of Beijing's new visa rules.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has reportedly required foreign passport holders originally from Taiwan or Hong Kong to list "China" as their place of birth.

Beijing said it considered 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.

The official statement by Ottawa cautioned Canadian passport holders who requested that their place of birth be omitted on their passport to double check with foreign countries they intend to visit whether the omission would incur any inconvenience.

"Where applicants request omission of their place of birth in their passport, they are advised to check with authorities of the country to be visited to ensure that no difficulties will be encountered in entering that country without the place of birth inscribed in the passport," the press release said.

Although several Chinese-language reports from Ottawa said yesterday that Canada has listed the dos and don'ts regarding filling in the place of birth for Canadians born in the three places, Kau said he hasn't heard any official clarification so far.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman Richard Shih (石瑞琦) yesterday confirmed that Taipei's representative office in Ottawa has reported back to the ministry the statement by Ottawa.

The ministry on Wednesday blasted China for requiring foreign passport holders born in Taiwan or Hong Kong to put "China" as their birthplace when applying for Chinese visas.

The ministry dubbed China's visa rules as "muddleheaded," while calling for Beijing to stop such action, which it said would affect overseas Taiwanese traveling on foreign passports.

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