Sun, Nov 17, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Thousands petition for `Taiwan' in US

NAME-CHANGE Taiwanese Americans delivered 10,000 petition letters to Taiwan's man in Washington, urging him to push for including the word `Taiwan' in his office's title


Representatives of 10 Taiwanese-American organizations presented Taiwan's representative to the US, Chen Chien-jen (程建人), with 10,000 petitions urging the Taiwan government to change the name of its Washington office, but came away disappointed with Chen's reaction during a nearly hour-long face-to-face meeting.

The petition letters, which filled five large boxes, asks that the current name of the office, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO), must be changed to the Taiwan Representative Office, as part of the broader "Name Rectification Campaign" begun in Taipei earlier this year.

The petition letter, which describe Taiwan as a "full-fledged country," say that "the highest office representing Taiwan's interests in the United States should certainly have the word `Taiwan' in its name."

"The current name ... is completely unsatisfactory and most demeaning ... It is plain wrong to use a city's name to represent a country."

The petition letter also notes that the Taiwan Relations Act -- the basis of US-Taiwan relations since Washington gave diplomatic recognition to Beijing in 1979 -- uses the word Taiwan and that US President George W. Bush himself has used the words "Taiwan" and "Taiwanese" repeatedly.

Chen, who was to travel to Taipei today for a week's visit during which he will talk with President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), Premier Yu Shyi-kun and other officials, said he would bring up the issue "at each and every occasion."

But he did not pledge to advocate a name-change, which upset and disappointed members of the Taiwanese-American delegation.

Not impressed with `bureaucratic response'

Victim of politics

* The signed petition letters filled five large boxes and asks that the current name of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office, must be changed to the ``Taiwan Representative Office.''

* The move was part of the broader "Name Rectification Campaign" begun in Taipei earlier this year.

* The petition letter notes that US President George W. Bush himself has used the words ``Taiwan'' and ``Taiwanese'' repeatedly.

"By and large, it was a bureaucratic response, with a tinge of sincerity," delegation leader Bob Yang, US chairman of the World United For-mosans for Independence, told the Taipei Times.

"We were hoping that he would be a bit more proactive, and more of an advocate for the name-change," he said.

"It is not certain that he will advocate our position. In fact, he said as much. He said he would offer analysis based on, quote, `objective facts,'" Yang said.

Other delegation members, who wished not to be named, also echoed Yang's disappointment after the meeting with Chen.

Chen was cautious in his statement to the delegation and in his responses to their questions.

"A change of name theoretically speaking may not be difficult, but in reality it is not so easy," he said.

"We are living in a very complicated world, particularly as Taiwan has been evolving rapidly, not merely domestically, but also internationally," he said.

"Without naming China or its allies in the world and in international organizations," Chen said, "we have faced many challenges, many difficulties. We have adversaries in the international community who always try to isolate us, to undercut us, to downgrade us."

The government has to take into account many factors, do-mestically, internationally and in cross-Strait relations, to decide "what is in the best interest of Taiwan and the Taiwanese people," Chen cautioned.

When he meets the president, Chen said, he will let him know "what the factors are that he has to weigh ... I have to analyze this very objectively."

After such an analysis, Taipei will have "a broader, a clearer idea" whether a name change "would be good for the interests of the people, or would hurt the interests of the people."

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