Several overseas Taiwanese groups on Wednesday called for changing the English-language title on the nation’s passport to “Taiwan,” while World United Formosans for Independence (WUFI) in Taiwan urged the government to promote the name change at a time when the nation is drawing unprecedented attention worldwide for its efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a joint statement titled “Let Taiwan Passport Be Taiwan,” 46 Taiwanese organizations in North and South America, Europe, Asia and Oceania said they are all familiar with stories of confusion at foreign immigration desks when Taiwanese present a passport that says “Republic of China” on the cover.
Although the word “Taiwan” also appears on the passport cover, foreign immigration authorities often mistake it for a Chinese passport, the groups said.
A constitutional amendment to change Taiwan’s official name — the Republic of China (ROC) — might not be possible in the near term, while but there is broad public support for the use of the English designation “Taiwan,” the organizations said, citing a poll that showed 74.3 percent of Taiwanese support that name.
Ken Wu (吳兆峯), director of the Los Angeles branch of the Formosan Association for Public Affairs, said that he had met many people who did not know “the difference between the ROC and the PRC [People’s Republic of China]” in his work in the financial field.
In some cases, Taiwanese clients are misidentified as Chinese, which can have significant legal repercussions, said Wu, whose organization is among those that signed the statement.
He said that while a name change on passports was unlikely, the government should make an effort, particularly in light of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) long-term goal of promoting the use of the name “Taiwan” internationally.
The “Let Taiwan Passport Be Taiwan” statement followed an online petition launched by an overseas Taiwanese group to change the name of Taiwan’s flagship carrier, China Airlines (CAL), to “Taiwan Airlines.”
Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) on Tuesday expressed support for changing CAL’s name, but said it might not be easy as it could affect the nation’s freedoms of the air privileges.
CAL could use “more symbols of Taiwan” to prevent misconceptions about its origin, Su said.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday endorsed Su’s stance, saying the government would increase the recognizability of things representing Taiwan and that members of the public have shown their creativity in suggesting potential alternatives.
Meanwhile, WUFI urged the Tsai administration to make more progress in promoting the nation’s name change at this critical juncture.
Taiwan has received unprecedented attention from other countries because of its effective response to contain COVID-19, which is a good opportunity for Taiwan to assert its sovereignty and rights to join international organizations, it said in a news release yesterday.
It would not push Tsai to complete the name change process immediately, but Tsai should show her committment to the nearly 8.17 million people who voted for her in the Jan. 11 presidential election, it said.
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