Fri, Dec 14, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Lawmakers pan inaction over China passports

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Dissatisfied with the government’s inaction in dealing with the inclusion of Taiwanese territory in China’s new passports, the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee yesterday approved a resolution calling for the government to act on the matter.

The non-binding motion said that to safeguard the nation’s sovereignty, the government should immediately compose a formal letter to China to protest against over the inclusion of Taiwan, the South China Sea and the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) in its new passport and demand the content be corrected.

The motion was proposed by Democratic Progressive Party legislators Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃), Mark Chen (陳唐山) and Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) and adopted unanimously.

China in May issued new e-passports that include a map showing Taiwan and the disputed South China Sea as Chinese territory, as well as pictures of Taiwanese tourist spots such as Nantou County’s Sun Moon Lake and Hualien’s Chingshui Cliffs.

The government has come under fire for failing to counter China’s claims over the controversial territories in the manner of some other countries, prompting lawmakers to arrange for Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) and Mainland Affairs Council Deputy Minister Liu Te-shun (劉德勳) to testify before the committee.

Lin and Liu told the committee that their agencies did not know about China’s new passports until the Financial Times reported the news last month.

Lawmakers offered various ideas on how to react to the Chinese passport.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) said the government should call an international press conference to make its position on the matter clear to the international community, a suggestion some other lawmakers seconded.

DPP Legislator Liu Chien-kuo (劉建國) demanded that the government include pictures of China’s Yellow River and the Yangtze River in Taiwanese passports.

The ministry should instruct its overseas officials not to accept new Chinese passports if they are used to apply for special travel documents to visit Taiwan, DPP Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said.

In reaction to the new passports, the DPP has recently printed stickers saying: “Taiwan is my country” and made them available to the public so that people can place the stickers on the cover of their passport.

The ministry warned people not to do so, but David Lin yesterday clarified the ministry’s position by saying that while people could violate passport regulations if they put stickers on the inside of their passports, the ministry was not opposed to the stickers being placed on passports covers.

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