Taiwan's New Name Changes Annoy China

Friday, February 16, 2007
What's in a name? Quite a bit if you're talking about China-Taiwan relations, reports the China Post. Reports said that China blasted Taiwan's president for a recent name-change campaign that deletes references to "China" and "Taiwan province" at state-run organizations in favor of "Taiwan." China considers Taiwan part of its territory and is deeply suspicious of any move that downplays the island's cultural and historical ties to China or suggests the island is an independent entity. The two sides split in 1949 when the Nationalists were forced to flee China after a protracted civil war. Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party headed by embattled President Chen Shui-bian, however, favors a stronger Taiwanese identity. On Monday, Chunghwa Post, the island's postal service, became Taiwan Post Co., a move the government said was necessary to distinguish it from the Mainland's China Post. "Chunghwa" is another term for China.

Taiwan is also expected to appear on the island's stamps, many of which will land in Chinese mailboxes given the strong commercial and familial ties between the political adversaries. Other candidates that have, or are posed to receive, a moniker makeover include Taiwan's state-run airlines, shipbuilding, petroleum, telecommunications and steel companies. The registration fees, cost and confusion has prompted grumbling from some executives and labor unions. Changing signs on 1,000 post offices island-wide, reprinting post office vehicles and re-issuing bank books and financial forms could cost over US$30 million, by some estimates. In Kaohsiung, an executive of China Shipbuilding Corp. said it would be a "painstaking task" to erase the China reference on the company's giant bridge cranes, costing as much as $300,000.

The name change initiative is only the latest in a series of moves by the pro-independence DPP that have irked China. Taiwan's National Palace Museum changed its charter in January to say its mission was to collect and study "domestic and foreign" art. Beijing claimed this was aimed at downplaying where the art treasures came from, a charge museum officials deny. When the Nationalists left China, they fled with 654,500 pieces of Mainland art. Taiwan also recently moved to rewrite its textbooks, always a sensitive issue in Asia, dropping references to "our country" in favor of "China." A volume previously known as "History of Our Country" will now be called "History of China." Source: China Post

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