Mon, Aug 18, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Ma delegation labeled ‘China, Taiwan’

CONTROVERSY During their stay, members of the presidential delegation visiting the Dominican Republic were transported in vehicles bearing signs with the words

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER , IN SANTO DOMINGO

The delegation led by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on a state visit to the Dominican Republic — one of the nation’s allies — was referred to as “China, Taiwan” on embassy signs used to identify it.

An official with the embassy told the Taipei Times the signs were produced by the office as had been done in the past.

The flags of both countries were placed at the top of the signs, with the words “Special Mission” and “China, Taiwan” printed in Spanish underneath.

Ma’s delegation arrived in Santo Domingo late on Friday night and left yesterday morning. During their stay, members of the delegation were transported through the city in vehicles bearing the signs.

At the El Embajador hotel where the delegation spent two nights, a signboard bearing the words “embassy” and “China-Taiwan” were placed outside of conference rooms used by members of Ma’s delegation. Ma visited the Dominican Republic to attend the inauguration of Leonel Fernandez, who was sworn in for his third presidential term. Ma also held a bilateral meeting with Salvadoran President Elias Antonio Saca in a conference room with the title hanging on the outside wall.

Ambassador to the Dominican Republic Tsai Meng-hung (蔡孟宏) agreed to a press conference to answer media questions about the signs, but did not turn up.

An embassy official initially told the Taipei Times that the placards on the vehicles were too small to include even the country’s abbreviated official title in Spanish, “Rep. De China.”

When asked why the office did not use larger signs, the official said it would have impeded vision, as the placards were placed on the front windows of the vehicles.

However, the official then said the words “China, Taiwan” had been chosen because most people in the Dominican Republic would not know what “ROC, Taiwan” meant.

“The title ‘China, Taiwan’ has nothing to do with political ideology. Since you live in Taiwan, you consider it a way of downgrading [the nation], but for people in the Dominican Republic, when they say China, they are referring to our country,” he said.

He said the embassy had only started adding “Taiwan” to its name in the past few years to distinguish the office from China’s representative office in the Dominican Republic.

Alex Wang (王國平), president of Orquideas Santo Domingo, who has cultivated orchids in the Dominican Republic for more than 20 years, said most people in the Dominican Republic mean Taiwan when they say “China.”

“Our country has had ties with the Dominican Republic for more than 60 years, the People’s Republic of China [PRC] hasn’t,” he said. “When people in the Dominican Republic say China, mostly they are referring to us, not the PRC. But gradually, they are realizing we’re also called Taiwan.”

Asked for comment on the name used on the placards, National Security Council Secretary-General Su Chi (蘇起), a member of the delegation, said “the Dominican Republic is our ally and the ‘China’ it recognizes according to its one China principle is the Republic of China. That’s why it calls us ‘China.’”

Also See: Taipei to resume FTA talks with Dominican Republic

Also See: EDITORIAL: Taking a stand is a president’s role

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