Fri, Nov 21, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Commission asks for name change to avoid confusion

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Cabinet's Overseas Chinese Affairs Commission (OCAC) announced yesterday it is considering replacing the word "Chinese" in its title with "Compatriot," in order to prevent foreigners from mistaking overseas Taiwanese for Chinese citizens.

Head of the commission, Chang Fu-mei (張富美), told overseas Chinese representatives, who traveled to Taiwan for the agency's annual conference on overseas Chinese affairs, that the commission's name often causes people to misunderstand its function.

"Most countries regard people from the People's Republic of China [PRC] as Chinese and those from the Republic of China [ROC] as Taiwanese," Chang said.

Foreigners often mistake the commission for an agency serving people from the PRC because of the word "Chinese" in its title, she said.

Nevertheless, Chang said, simply changing the word "Chinese" to "Taiwanese" will spark an outcry. There are overseas Chinese who do not see themselves as Taiwanese, she said.

"They will be upset if they see `Taiwanese' in the agency's official title. They will not tolerate `Chinese' being crossed out from the title," Chang said.

"If we change `Chinese' to `Taiwanese,' I believe many people will oppose it. I don't think now is the appropriate time to make such a change," she said.

Another concern about making the name change is that the move might provoke China, Chang said.

Replacing "Chinese" with "compatriot," is therefore a more practical approach to re the solve confusion caused by the title, she said, and "compatriot is a relatively neutral word."

Moreover, if the agency replaces "Chinese" with "compatriot," the abbreviation of its title, "OCAC," will remain unchanged, Chang said.

Another advantage of using "compatriot" is that the agency's Web site and related documents will not have to go through troublesome changes because the abbreviation will remain the same.

Chang did not say when the proposed name change will be implemented but said the agency has been considering the issue since last year.

She said the commission has to carefully observe the development of Taiwan's role in the international arena before making a final decision about when to change the agency's name.

In a legislative session last month, Chang also mentioned the proposal to change the agency's name.

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