In a letter dated Oct. 13, 1994, then-representative to the US Benjamin Lu (魯肇忠) wrote to then-American Institute in Taiwan chairman Nat Bellocchi: “I take great pleasure in informing you that my government has formally approved that the name of our Washington office will be Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States.”
Two months later, on Dec. 20, Bellocchi responded, acknowledging receipt of the letter “informing me of the change in name of your office from the Coordination Council for North American Affairs (CCNAA) to Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States (TECRO).”
In a letter dated Oct. 3, 1990, then-US Department of State executive secretary J. Stapleton Roy had written to then-US national security adviser Brent Scowcroft, then-CIA acting executive secretary James Pittman and then-US Department of Defense executive secretary Colonel John Dubia, saying: “Consistent with the unofficial nature of US-Taiwan ties, the US Government [USG] no longer refers to Taiwan as the ‘Republic of China’ — a term reflecting Taipei’s continuing claim to be the government of China... We refer to Taiwan simply as Taiwan.”
Roy’s verbiage is repeated every year in a memo that the U.S. Secretary of State sends to all its embassies and consular offices around the world prior to Taiwan’s National “Double Ten” Day, where the Secretary of State writes: “The Department reminds posts that, consistent with the unofficial nature of US -Taiwan ties, the U.S. Government does not refer to Taiwan as the "Republic of China," the "Republic of China on Taiwan," or a country. The USG refers to Taiwan simply as "Taiwan."
We therefore have an “American Institute in TAIWAN” and a “TAIWAN Relations Act.”
So why is TECRO called the “Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office” and not the “Taiwan Economic and Cultural Representative Office?”
I understand that in 1994, when Washington asked Taipei for a short list of new names to replace the oddly nondescriptive CCNAA (mis)nomer, Taipei did not submit a possible new name for its representative office with the word “Taiwan” in it — despite Roy stating in 1990 that “we refer to Taiwan simply as Taiwan” in US guidelines.
The TECRO name is nondescriptive, as it has the word “Taipei” in it, which creates the impression that the office only represents the capital and its residents.
It would be the equivalent of referring to the American Institute in Taiwan as the Washington Institute in Taiwan.
It is time that the US started adhering to reality by changing TECRO to a name that is consistent with US policy: the Taiwan Representative Office. It would set an inspiring precedent for other countries to emulate.
Mike Kuo is president of the Formosan Association for Public Affairs.
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