In unusually direct language, Taipei yesterday called on Beijing to pay more attention to Taiwan’s position on China’s controversial new passport, saying that China’s refusal to acknowledge its indignation had “hurt the feelings” of Taiwanese.
At the heart of the controversy is a new passport that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) began issuing in May, which features watermarks that include famous tourist attractions in Taiwan, such as Nantou’s Sun Moon Lake and Hualien’s Chingshui Cliffs; Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin — areas whose sovereignty Beijing disputes with India; and 90 percent of the South China Sea.
Countries in the region, including Vietnam, India and the Philippines, reacted with indignation when the contents of the new passport were reported in news articles last month, making demarches to Beijing and issuing visas to Chinese visitors bearing imprints of their own rectified maps.
Photo: Lo Pei-der, Taipei Times
Taiwan’s response to the inclusion of its territory in the passport was much more muted than that of the other countries, prompting accusations that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was not being vocal enough in asserting Taiwan’s independence and had failed to take seriously the implications of China’s action on the nation’s sovereign status.
Mainland Affairs Council Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) told the legislature yesterday that the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) had written to the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) last week to explain Taiwan’s position on the matter.
The SEF and ARATS are semi-official bodies created to handle cross-strait affairs in the absence of official bilateral diplomatic relations.
In a reply received on Wednesday, ARATS dismissed Taiwan’s protest as “invalid,” adding that the design of the new passport had only become an issue after “pro-independence activists” had “made a fuss” over the matter, Wang said.
Wang said that Beijing’s response misrepresented the situation and he urged China to pay greater attention to Taiwan’s indignation over the passports.
“This incident is not a partisan concern, nor does it bother only a small number of people in Taiwan,” he said, dispelling the notion that only supporters of Taiwanese independence had been angered. “If the mainland authorities fail to realize this, the development of relations across the Taiwan Strait will be undermined.”
Beijing’s handling of the matter is “unacceptable” to Taiwan because it demonstrates that Beijing does not realize how serious an impact the incident has had on cross-strait ties, he said, adding that ties between Taiwan and China were defined as “special relations” rather than direct state-to-state relations, echoing remarks made by Ma the previous day.
Taiwan’s territory as outlined in the Republic of China (ROC) Constitution includes China, but at present its jurisdiction covers only Taiwan and the outlying islands of Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu, he said.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators last week demanded that SEF Chairman Lin Join-sane (林中森) step down after he said that Chinese officials had assured him that the new passport had not been designed with any “particular motive in mind,” except to be “trendy.”
In reaction to what it called an insufficiently assertive reaction to the matter on behalf of the government, the DPP began issuing passport stickers earlier this month featuring a map of Taiwan and its outlying islands over which a text reading: “Taiwan is my country” was superimposed.
Although the ROC does not recognize PRC passports and Chinese visitors who come to Taiwan are required to apply for a “compatriot pass” issued by the National Immigration Agency, the process nevertheless requires a passport.
Three cases of Candida auris, a fungus that can cause a yeast infection known as candidiasis in humans, have been reported in Taiwan over the past few years, but they did not display drug resistance, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞) said yesterday. Lo made the statement at a news conference in Taipei, one day after the Washington Post reported that the potentially deadly fungus is spreading in US hospitals. The fungus was first discovered in Japan in 2009 and poses a danger to immunocompromised people, with an estimated mortality rate of 30 to 60 percent, Lo
‘DIRE’: Taiwan would not engage in ‘dollar diplomacy,’ the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, after China reportedly offered Honduras up to US$3 billion to establish relations The government yesterday recalled its ambassador to Honduras after the Central American nation sent its foreign minister to China, signaling that it would sever diplomatic ties with Taiwan. Suspicions concerning ties with Honduras are rife after Honduran President Xiomara Castro on Tuesday last week wrote on Twitter that her country would pursue diplomatic ties with China. Honduran Minister of Foreign Affairs Eduardo Enrique Reina traveled to China on Wednesday “to promote efforts for the establishment of diplomatic relations” on instructions from Castro, Reuters yesterday quoted Honduran presidential spokesman Ivis Alvarado as saying. The government “has decided to immediately recall the ambassador to Honduras
SWITCH TO BEIJING: The government severed diplomatic relations about an hour after Honduras announced the move, saying that no semi-official ties would be maintained Taiwan severed diplomatic ties with Honduras and ended all cooperation with the Central American country, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday, about an hour and a half after the Honduran Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Twitter at 8am Taiwan time that the nation would cut its ties with Taiwan. Honduran President Xiomara Castro on Wednesday sent Honduran Minister of Foreign Affairs Eduardo Enrique Reina to Beijing to negotiate the establishment of diplomatic relations. She announced the plan on March 14 on Twitter. “To safeguard Taiwan’s sovereignty and dignity, Taiwan is terminating diplomatic ties with Honduras with immediate effect” after communication with
MEDIA, SOCIETY FOCUS: Doublethink Lab said that Beijing is trying to coerce countries that rely on China economically to pursue policies in its favor China has stronger influence over Taiwan’s media and society than any other country, the Taipei-based Doublethink Lab think tank said yesterday, as it announced its China Index gauging Beijing’s global influence. Taiwan ranked 11th overall among 82 countries assessed, but first in terms of social and media influence, Doublethink Lab chairman Puma Shen (沈伯洋) told a news conference in Taipei. More than 200 experts and academics participated in the project, including some highly influential figures, Shen said. The index collects information from countries worldwide to gauge China’s influence and assess how Chinese policies affect them, Shen said. In terms of Chinese