Premier Yu Shyi-kun yesterday threw his backing behind President Chen Shui-bian's (
"Correcting the names of embassies and state-run enterprises is necessary and urgent because it will help lessen confusion and avoid [Taiwan] shouldering unnecessary responsibilities for ill-reputed Chinese companies bearing similar names," he said. "It's a sound policy, similar to that of adding the word `Taiwan' on the cover of the [Republic of China] passport in Roman script."
Citing the state-run China Airlines as an example, Yu said that it is easy to confuse it with China's Air China.
The Singapore-based China Aviation Oil is similar to the state-run Chinese Petroleum Corp.
Anticipating opposition to name changes from some employees of state-run businesses, Yu argued that using "Taiwan" will help lessen confusion for those companies when they attend international conferences or conduct business trips abroad.
Although it may cost some money and take some time to have the names changed, Yu said that he estimated the expenses will not be too costly.
"I'm calling on the agencies concerned to handle the matter in accordance with the regulations and we'll also conduct an evaluation on the measure," he said.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it will continue talks with countries that do not diplomatically recognize the Republic of China (ROC), to discuss its plan to change the name of Taiwan's representative offices, a senior official said yesterday.
Ministry spokesman Michel Lu (呂慶龍) made the remarks after Chen said on Sunday that his administration will push for changes of the designation of ROC missions abroad and certain state-owned enterprises within two years. Including the word "Taiwan" would clearly distinguish them from those of the People's Republic of China (PRC), he said.
Lu said Chen's name-change proposal does not involve changes to the nation's status or title.
Therefore, he said, the designation of the embassies and consulates in countries that maintain formal diplomatic ties with Taipei will not be subject to change.
As for missions in countries with no diplomatic ties, Lu said, the ministry has been working on name-change issues for the past few years. Now that Chen has given a timeframe for attaining the goal, he said, the ministry will continue negotiating the "name change" with the relevant countries.
Taipei forged diplomatic relations with the Pacific island nation of Kiribati in November last year. As the embassy is situated opposite a building that used to house the PRC embassy, the ROC embassy's name plaque already bears a word "Taiwan" to avoid confusion.
Asked whether the ROC embassies in other countries will follow this practice, Lu said this would require further study before a decision can be made.
In related news, Minister of Education Tu Cheng-sheng (杜正勝) said yesterday the six government-funded Chinese schools in Southeast Asia will be designated as "overseas Taiwan schools" in line with government policy.
Asked about his views on Chen's pledge to change the names of overseas offices, Tu pointed out that as his ministry is a government organ, its job is to implement government policy.