New passports with the word "Taiwan" in Roman script on the cover were formally issued yesterday.
To mark the occasion, Minister of Foreign Affairs Eugene Chien (
Kuo Yi-ming (
"I think I'd like to visit China first," he said when asked where he would like to go with his new passport.
Unfortunately for Kuo, his new passport will be of little use to him on this trip as Taiwanese visiting China need a "Taiwan compatriot" travel document.
Yang Sheng-chung (楊勝宗), director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Bureau of Consular Affairs, said that old passports will remain valid until their expiry dates. Old versions of the passport had only the nation's official name, Republic of China, on the cover.
The government's move to add the word "Taiwan" to the cover has upset China, which views it as an affront to the "one China" principle.
Chien defended the change as being apolitical. He said that Taiwanese traveling abroad were often confused with citizens of China and that now it would be clear where they were from.
The foreign minister also said that many countries had expressed a willingness to cooperate with Taiwan over the new passports after a publicity campaign through embassies, consulates and representative offices.
"We have not heard of any dissenting opinions concerning this new version of the passport so far; because after all, it is a pure travel document for ROC nationals," Chien said.
Presidential Office Secretary-General Chiou I-jen (
Meanwhile, members of the Alliance to Campaign for Rectifying the Name of Taiwan, in an attempt to further their cause of changing the nation's name to Taiwan, yesterday handed out passport jackets with "Republic of Taiwan" printed on them to travelers at CKS International Airport.
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