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Taiwan’s new passport hopes to banish confusion with China

Bureau of Consular Affairs Director General Phoebe Yeh said that as of mid-morning Monday, they had received more than 700 applications for the new passport, compared with a daily average of 1000 typically.

“The purpose is to increase the visibility of Taiwan so that our people will not be mistakenly identified as coming from China when they travel abroad,” she said.

Taiwan's old passport featured "Republic of China" in large letters across the front and was blamed for causing confusion during the pandemic.

Taiwan’s old passport featured “Republic of China” in large letters across the front and was blamed for causing confusion during the pandemic.Credit:AP

Chen Li-ting, one of the first to apply for the new passport, said the change was “fantastic”.

“I thought it would happen sooner or later. That is, sooner or later the word Taiwan would appear more and more. And in the future Republic of China will perhaps disappear,” he said.

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China, referring to the new passports, has said it does not matter what “petty moves” Taiwan made, it would 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 Organisation (WHO).

On Monday, the US ambassador in the Netherlands hosted Taiwan’s representative to the country at the US embassy, in the first publicly announced visit to a US government office since the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lifted restrictions on interactions.

The US ambassador to the Netherlands, Pete Hoekstra, said on Twitter that Taiwan’s representative to the country, Chen Hsing-hsing, had met with him at the embassy.

“Made some history today: Welcomed Taiwan Representative Chen to our Embassy,” he wrote, including pictures of the two of them in the embassy building.

“Glad that our @StateDept colleagues around the world will now be able to host our friends from this vibrant democracy on our embassy grounds.”

Chen tweeted she was extremely pleased and honoured to visit the embassy, saying it was “the very first time in my diplomatic career”.

The United States, like most countries, has no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, and previous interactions between officials from both sides were limited to non-official venues such as hotels.

China has been angered by stepped-up US support for Taiwan under the Trump administration, including arms sales and visits to Taipei by senior US officials.

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft, is due to arrive in Taiwan on Wednesday for a three-day visit.

Reuters

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