US Representative wants fairness for Taiwanese voters

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in Washington

Wed, May 02, 2012 - Page 3

US Representative Howard Berman has asked the US state of California to stop forcing Taiwanese-Americans to list their place of birth as “Taiwan, Province of China.”

A Democrat from Valley Village, California, Berman has written to Californian Secretary of State Debra Bowen requesting the records be changed to “Taiwan.”

All California residents born in Taiwan registering to vote online must list their place of birth as Taiwan, Province of China.

“The Taiwanese-American community in California is proud of their heritage and birthplace,” Berman said in his letter.

“It is unfair to force members of this community to list ‘Taiwan, Province of China’ as their country of birth when they register to vote online, when their true birthplace is Taiwan. Our federal government uses the term Taiwan and the state of California should do the same,” Berman said.

A state official said on Monday that there would be no comment until the letter had been considered and a decision made on what action, if any, to take.

In his letter, Berman said: “It has been long-standing US policy that the US government refers to Taiwan as ‘Taiwan.’ Federal and quasi-federal agencies such as Amtrak, the US Postal Service and the US State Department all refer simply to ‘Taiwan.’”

Berman requested that California also use the same terminology as the other federal agencies and refer to Taiwan without the addition of “province of China.”

Berman was responsible for passing legislation in 1994 that allowed Taiwanese-Americans to have “Taiwan” recorded as their birthplace on their US passports.

Until then, all Taiwanese-Americans had to list “China” as their birthplace.