US Congressman objects to ‘China (Taiwan)’ reference

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in Washington

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 - Page 3

A ranking member of the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs is fighting to protect the right of Taiwanese to list their birthplace as Taiwan.

Democratic Representative Howard Berman has written to US Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, asking the agency to stop referring to Taiwan as “China (Taiwan)” on I-94 immigration forms.

The issue was raised by the Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA) when one of its New York members crossed the border into the US from Canada at Niagara Falls and was “shocked” to receive an I-94 card referring to Taiwan as “China (Taiwan).”

“It has been a long-standing US policy that the US government refers to Taiwan as Taiwan,” Berman said in his letter.

He said the designation was used by the US Department of State, the Pentagon and other federal agencies.

“Many Taiwanese citizens travel across our borders every day,” Berman said. “These individuals should not be required to sign their name under an inaccurate statement in an official government document.”

Berman asked Napolitano for her “prompt efforts to correct this error.”

FAPA thanked Berman for his support.

“We Taiwanese Americans are very grateful to Congressman Berman for carrying the flag on Taiwan’s name rectification,” FAPA president Mark Kao (高龍榮) said. “Taiwan is Taiwan and Taiwan’s sovereignty is not an issue with which one can play politics.”

In April, Berman persuaded California Secretary of State Debra Bowen to correct the voter registration system in her state, which referred to Taiwan as “Taiwan, Province of China.”

In 1994, Berman was the primary force behind legislation allowing Taiwanese Americans to list “Taiwan” — instead of China — as their place of birth in their US passports.