The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday confirmed that the Papua New Guinean government last month insisted that Taiwan’s representative office change its name due to repeated pressure from China.
Since late last year, China had taken advantage of its status as the second-largest provider of aid to Papua New Guinea (PNG) to keep pressuring the government to change the name of Taiwan’s representative office and its treatment of the office’s staff, ministry spokesman Andrew Lee (李憲章) said.
“Despite the office’s best efforts, the PNG government was not able to withstand China’s carrot-and-stick pressure and eventually demanded a change of name,” Lee said, adding that the name change does not have any substantial impact on the office’s operations.
China’s demands first came to the ministry’s attention in February when Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang (耿爽) praised the PNG government’s adherence to the “one China” principle when responding to reporters’ questions over allegations that Taiwan’s trade office had been asked to rename itself.
The ministry acknowledged at the time that the nation’s trade office in PNG had been asked to change its name, as well as remove its nameplate and diplomatic license plates from its vehicles, but stressed that bilateral negotiations were still underway.
The office, which was previously named the Trade Mission of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in Papua New Guinea has been renamed as the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Papua New Guinea.
It is not the nation’s first overseas representative office to have been forced to undergo a name change due to Chinese pressure.
The nation’s trade offices in Ecuador, Bahrain, Nigeria, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates have also been forced to remove the term Republic of China or Taiwan from their designation.
Taiwan and PNG, despite not having formal diplomatic relations, have had close exchanges in the areas of energy, trade and fisheries since the 1990s, Lee said.
“Taiwan has also begun cooperating on agriculture and medical health,” he said.
The ministry understands the situation the nation’s international friends face due to Chinese pressure, Lee said, adding that Taiwan would continue its substantial exchanges and cooperation with PNG to safeguard its dignity and rights.
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