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Taiwan unveils new passport in latest provocation aimed at China

Taiwan alleges the new passports are only meant to provide a distinction between Taiwanese and mainland Chinese citizens.

Taiwan's secessionist government has introduced a newly redesigned passport, with the purported aim of helping differentiate its citizens from those of mainland China, in a move that will likely further infuriate Beijing amid the recent spike in tensions.

On the new passports, rolled out on Monday, the word "Taiwan" has been enlarged, while "Republic of China" - the territory's official name -  has been removed. It only remains in Chinese and in small English font around the national emblem.

The passports, currently in use, have “Republic of China” written in large English font at the top, with “Taiwan” printed at the bottom.

The Taipei government claims that the old passports created international confusion during the coronavirus outbreak, causing its citizens to be confused with Chinese nationals and occasionally treated badly and subjected to COVID-19-related entry bans.

It says the new passports are only meant to provide a distinction between Taiwanese and mainland Chinese citizens.

“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.

Beijing has already reacted to Taipei's new passport design, by saying that Taiwan will always remain an integral part of the Chinese national territories and that such "petty moves" will be ineffectual.

Under the “One China” policy, that recognizes China’s sovereignty over Tailand, the vast majority of world countries, the US included, do not establish formal diplomatic relations with the government in Taipei.

However, the administration of the outgoing US President Donald Trump has been responding positively to the island's secessionist president Tsai Ing-wen, providing arms to her regime in recent years.

In a last-ditch effort to further challenge China’s sovereignty over the autonomous island, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced a decision to lift restrictions on official contacts with Taipei.

Pompeo said the US restrictions on diplomatic relations with Taipei had been designed to “appease the Chinese Communist Party”. 

All eyes now remain on the next US administration to see if Joe Biden will return to Washington's established foreign policy.

Beijing's response to to US Taiwan move

Reacting to the latest US move, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian has said that nobody could prevent Taiwan’s “re-unification” with the mainland.

“The Chinese people’s resolve to defend our sovereignty and territorial integrity is unshakable and we will not permit any person or force to stop the process of China’s reunification,” Zhao Lijian told reporters on Monday.

He warned that, “Any actions which harm China’s core interests will be met with a firm counterattack and will not succeed.” 

Chinese media also condemned Washington's latest policy announcement on Taiwan. 

“Those on the island of Taiwan must not take for granted that they can seek secession with the help of the last-ditch madness of an administration abandoned by the Americans,” the paper warned. “On the contrary, such madness is very likely to bring them annihilation,” wrote the Global Times.

Taiwan, as expected, hailed the US move as "a big thing for the elevation" of mutual relations.

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft, has been scheduled to meet Taiwan's president on Thursday in Taipei to discuss ways of promoting relations.

The Trump administration has approved billions of dollars in arms sales to Taiwan in recent years.

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