Lawmakers and officials were among the people who lined up early yesterday to apply for the redesigned passports, which prominently display the word “Taiwan,” while minimizing the English name “Republic of China” (ROC).
Nearly 300 people applied for passports at the Bureau of Consular Affairs in Taipei, where Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) watched over the process.
Wu said he was happy to see the high level of enthusiasm for the passports, and reiterated that other nations, airlines, the International Air Transport Association and relevant agencies have been notified of the change to ensure a smooth transition.
There would be no problems using the passports, Wu said, inviting those whose passports are expiring soon, as well as anyone who is interested, to apply.
People in Taichung began lining up at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ local office before 7am, and by 8:30am, the line was snaking out the door.
Executive Yuan Central Taiwan Joint Services Center Deputy Director Hung Chun-yi (洪宗熠) was among the applicants, many of whom said they wanted to apply even though their passports did not expire soon.
More than 10 people arrived early at the ministry’s office in Hualien, saying they could not wait for the COVID-19 pandemic to be over so they could use their new passports to travel.
Before the pandemic, the Hualien office issued 70 to 80 passports per month, but in the past year had not reached even 10 most months, the ministry said.
A Hualien resident surnamed Hsiao (蕭) said that they waited to change their passport, even though their old one expired in August last year.
The new design is simple and tasteful, especially the prominent “Taiwan,” Hsiao said.
Among the applicants in Taipei was Taiwan Statebuilding Party Legislator Chen Po-wei (陳柏惟), who not only showed up early, but also paid for priority processing to get his passport in two or three days, as opposed to the usual four.
“Changing the passport cover is a small step, but letting the world recognize and see Taiwan is extremely moving,” he said.
The Legislative Yuan passed the proposal to emphasize “Taiwan” over “ROC” with 66 votes for and none against, he said, thanking his colleagues for the cross-party effort.
He was happy to give this small gift to Taiwanese on the one-year anniversary of his election, he added.
Asked about the retention of the ROC name in Chinese characters, Chen said that no matter a person’s ideology, the name causes confusion internationally, sometimes even endangering Taiwanese.
The redesign is a manifestation of national sovereignty, identity and pride, and is worth feeling proud of, he added.
However, Chen said he still longs for the day he can officially say: “This is Taiwan. We are Taiwanese.”
People can apply for a new passport at the bureau office in Taipei, a local foreign ministry office or at a representative office abroad.
The cost remains unchanged: NT$1,300 for applicants aged 14 or older and NT$900 for children under 14.
Additional reporting by Su Chin-feng and Wang Chun-chi
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