Fri, May 16, 2014 - Page 1 News List

MOFA in sticky spot over Taiwan ID stickers

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

A sticker designed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) to help protect Taiwanese during anti-China protests in Vietnam is displayed in an undated photograph provided by the ministry.

Photo: MOFA

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday came under fire over stickers it designed identifying the wearer as a Taiwanese national and which it planned to give to Taiwanese in Vietnam in a bid to protect them from being attacked by anti-China protesters.

The stickers bear the message: “I am Taiwanese. I am from Taiwan” written in Vietnamese against a yellow silhouette of the island with “I am from Taiwan” repeated underneath in English.

Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) said the ministry’s missions in Vietnam will give Taiwanese businesspeople there the stickers so “Vietnamese could easily distinguish them and their firms from their Chinese counterparts.”

According to the ministry, out of the 2,287 Taiwan-funded firms in Vietnam, 669 are located in Binh Duong Province and 331 in Dong Nai Province, the sites of the violent protests against Beijing’s move to put an oil rig close to the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) in the South China Sea, which are claimed by Taiwan, Vietnam and China.

The plan to hand out stickers to the estimated 40,000 Taiwanese in Vietnam drew harsh criticism from opposition lawmakers.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) said the ministry’s stickers could put Taiwanese in danger because Vietnamese are taught that Taiwan is part of China, so what is needed is to clarify that Taiwanese are not from China.

DPP Legislator Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) said Taiwanese firms and factories had been “inadvertently affected” by the anti-China sentiment in Vietnam because school textbooks teach pupils that “Taiwan is a province of China.”

The ministry should demand that Hanoi allow companies owned or funded by Taiwanese to display the Republic of China (ROC) flag to protect themselves from anti-Chinese violence, much as South Korean companies have done, DPP Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said.

Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Chou Ni-an (周倪安) asked the ministry to replace the slogan on the sticker with “I am ROC citizen. I am from the ROC.”

“You favor the ROC over Taiwan, don’t you? So why did you choose to use the designation ‘Taiwan’ this time?” Chou said.

Lin responded that despite Hanoi’s adherence to the “one China” policy and the way in which the Taiwan-China relationship is explained in schools in Vietnam, the majority of Vietnamese have a clear understanding that there is no connection between Taiwan-owned firms and China because Taiwanese have been investing in the country for more than 20 years.

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