Taiwan Going to Change Passport, Fed Up With the Confusion With China

Taiwan has been debating its identity for many years, including its name, but the COVID-19 pandemic has shot the issue back into the spotlight

Fed up with the confusion for China amidst the coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic and Beijing's increased efforts to assert supremacy, Taiwan stated on Wednesday that it will redesign its passport to give greater prominence to the island's name.

Taiwan has complained amid the pandemic that its residents encountered problems while entering other nations, as Taiwanese passports have the worlds 'Republic of China', written in English at the top with 'Taiwan' printed at the bottom.

The new passport, to roll out in January, enlarges the word "Taiwan" in English and removes the large English words "Republic of China", though that name in Chinese and in small English font around the national emblem will remain.

Taiwan Planning to Change Passport

A double rainbow is seen behind Taiwanese flag during the National Day celebrations in Taipei, Taiwan, October 10, 2017. Reuters

Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said new passports were needed to prevent their nationals from being mistaken for Chinese citizens, especially with the stepped-up entry checks many countries have begun since the pandemic began. "Since the beginning of the Wuhan pneumonia outbreak this year our people have kept hoping that we can give more prominence to Taiwan's visibility, avoiding people mistakenly thinking they are from China," Wu told reporters.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said it did not matter what "petty moves" Taiwan made, it could not change the fact that Taiwan was an inseparable part of China. China claims democratic Taiwan as its sovereign territory and says only it has the right to speak for the island internationally, a position it has pushed strongly during the pandemic, especially at the World Health Organization.

Taipei says this has confused countries and led them to impose the same restrictions on Taiwanese travelers as on Chinese, and that Taiwan has never been run by the People's Republic of China. Taiwan has been debating its identity for years, including its name. But the pandemic has shot the issue back into the spotlight. The government is also considering a name change - or at least a full redesign - for Taiwan's largest carrier, China Airlines, again to avoid confusion with China.

(With agency inputs)