Taiwan issues controversial new passports

  • AseanPlus News
  • Tuesday, 02 Sep 2003

TAIPEI: Taiwan's Foreign Ministry issued controversial passports yesterday which add the word “Taiwan” to the cover despite rival China's criticism it was another step by Taipei towards independence. 

Foreign Minister Eugene Chien in person shook hands with the first 10 Taiwan citizens to receive the new version of the passports. 

“As a Taiwan citizen, I'm proud to be given the new passport,” Kuo Yi-ming told reporters after he received the travel document. 

PROUD CITIZEN: Kuo displaying his passport after becoming the first Taiwanese to receive the new document in Taipei Monday. -- AFPpic

The ministry said the new design was aimed at distinguishing the island from the Chinese mainland. 

The old passport refers in English to the island as “the Republic of China,” and the addition of the word “Taiwan” would avoid the country being mistaken for China, the ministry said. 

The People's Republic of China is mainland China, Taiwan's long-time political rival. 

China claims sovereignty over Taiwan, which it considers a part of Chinese territory awaiting reunification. 

The Taipei government, however, insists on independent sovereignty. 

Taiwan is now ruled by the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party after it ended the Kuomintang's (KMT) half a century grip on power in the 2000 presidential polls. 

The KMT fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing a bitter civil war to Mao Zedong's communist forces. 

Beijing has threatened to reclaim Taiwan by force if the island ever formally declares independence. – AFP 

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