Dragged into a controversy over the identity of the Republic of China’s (ROC) capital, Minister of the Interior Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源) yesterday said that Taipei is the nation’s capital because it is the seat of the central government.
Lee was asked about the issue at a meeting of the legislature’s Internal Administration Committee after a Ministry of Education document sent to schools on Monday identified Nanjing, China, as the capital of the ROC. The document “reminded” elementary and high school administrators that the capital is Nanjing, in accordance with constitutional provisions.
Responding to a question by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Johnny Chiang (江啟臣), Lee said the ROC Constitution does not specify the location of the capital. The capital is where the central government is located, he said.
“Since Taipei is the seat of our central government, it is our nation’s capital,” he said.
Nanjing was established as the ROC capital in 1927. In 1937, the KMT government moved from Nanjing to Chongqing because of the Sino-Japanese War and World War II. Nanjing became the capital again in 1946. The KMT government relocated to Taiwan in 1949 after losing the Chinese Civil War.
Lee said the government issued a decree in 1949 proclaiming Taipei the new seat of government.
K-12 Education Administration Division head Chiu Chien-kuo (邱乾國) apologized for the error on Tuesday, saying the ministry should have explained its stance more clearly.
Chiu said the document was meant to be a reminder to schools about the maps they buy.
It said Taipei should be marked as the capital of the ROC with an explanation saying the city is the seat of the central government, because according to the Constitution, Nanjing is the ROC’s capital.
“Previously, some teaching material suppliers used the same color to identify Taiwan and China on their maps or globes. We issued the document to ask school administrators to remind their textbook suppliers not to repeat the mistake,” Chiu said.
Chiu said he was willing to take responsibility for the error.