Mon, Jul 10, 2017 - Page 1 News List

MOFA clarifies name use after US typo

ACCURACY COUNTS:The foreign ministry said it has used both the Republic of China and Taiwan when referring to the nation since President Tsai took office

By Lu Yi-hsuan, Tsai Wen-chu and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

A White House news release dated July 8 with remarks by US President Donald Trump prior to his meeting in Hamburg, Germany, with Chinese President Xi Jinping, erroneously identifying Xi as “President Xi of the Republic of China.”

Photo: CNA

Following a US diplomatic faux pas in which Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) was referred to as “President Xi of the Republic of China,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it has been using both “the Republic of China (ROC)” and “Taiwan” alternatively as the nation’s name since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office.

A White House transcript of US President Donald Trump’s public remarks with Xi in Hamburg, Germany, was released — before the two men met on the sidelines of the G20 summit — by White House press secretary Sean Spicer, referring to Xi as the president of the Republic of China.

The White House did not immediately comment on the diplomatic blunder, but it later corrected Xi’s title to “President Xi of China” without issuing a notice of retraction.

Since Tsai took office, the ministry said it has begun calling foreign dignitaries’ visits to Taiwan in its news releases as “fang tai” (訪台) — which means visiting Taiwan — instead of “fang hua” (訪華), which mean visiting Zhonghua Minguo (中華民國), the ROC.

The Legislative Yuan’s Foreign and National Defense Committee last year advised the ministry to make as many references to Taiwan as possible in its communications with foreign governments to help counter China’s claims that Taiwan belongs to it.

At the time, the ministry responded positively, saying that it did not foresee any obstacles to implementing the policy and that it would do so when circumstances permit.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tsai Shih-ying (蔡適應) yesterday said the ministry’s policy favoring the use of the name Taiwan in communications is appropriate, as Taiwan is a “neutral geographic term.”

“As proven by the fact that polls show more than half of the nation’s population agrees that ‘Taiwan’ should someday replace ‘the Republic of China’ as the name of the nation, Taiwanese identify with their land far more than with the fictitious ROC. This issue is separate from declaring a ‘Republic of Taiwan,’ and it will prevent foreign allies from confusing us with China,” the lawmaker said.

In related news, DPP Tainan City Councilor Lee Wen-cheng (李文正) yesterday said the continued use of the term “China” as part of the nation’s name can foster confusion with the People’s Republic of China.

Members of the public had complained that the Web site of Malaysia’s national railways company, KTM, identifies Taiwan as “Province of Taiwan” and “Taiwan, Province of China,” while Hong Kong is identified simply as “Hong Kong.”

It is saddening that the nation’s foreign affairs officials are idle at their posts while collecting their salaries, he said.

The public must understand that Taiwan’s sovereignty “will not fall from the heavens into our laps or be granted through Chinese charity,” he said, adding that he would call on Malaysia’s representative office to urge the Web site be corrected.

The ministry last night said that it had ordered its representative office in Kuala Lumpur to demand that the Malaysian Ministry of Transport make corrections.

“As long as Taiwan uses the name ‘Republic of China,’ we will be associated with China. China does not care how much goodwill we show to it, because it can tell the world that Taiwan is its province, as seen with KTM. For Taiwan to be respected, the fundamental solution is to tell the world that the nation is not part of the ROC or China, without ambiguity,” Tsai said.

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