Taipei is Republic of China's capital: minister

Taipei, Dec. 4 (CNA) Dragged into a controversy over the identity of the Republic of China's capital, Interior Minister Lee Hong-yuan said Wednesday that Taipei is the country's capital because it is the seat of the central government. Lee was asked about the issue at a legislative hearing after a Ministry of Education (MOE) document sent to local schools on Monday identified Nanjing in China as the capital of the ROC, the official name for self-governed Taiwan. The MOE document "reminded" elementary and secondary school administrators that the ROC's capital is Nanjing in accordance with constitutional provisions. Questioned about the issue by Kuomintang Legislator Chiang Chi-chen at a hearing of the Internal Administration Committee, Lee said the ROC Constitution does not specify the location of the country's capital. The capital, Lee said, is where the central government is located. "Since Taipei is the seat of our central government, it is our country's capital," he said. The "Republic of China" was the official name of China from 1912 to 1949 but was relocated to Taiwan when Kuomintang forces retreated to the island after losing the Chinese Civil War to the communists. Nanjing was established as the ROC capital from 1927 and served as such until 1937. The KMT government then relocated to Chongqing during the Sino-Japanese War and World War II before re-establishing the capital in Nanjing in 1946 after Japan's surrender. Lee said the ROC government issued a decree in 1949 proclaiming Taipei as the new seat of government. The education official in charge of the debacle apologized for the controversy on Tuesday, acknowledging that the document was flawed. Chiu Chien-kuo, director of the MOE's K-12 Education Administration, said the MOE document should have more clearly explained the ministry's stance. The document, Chiu said, was actually sent as a reminder to schools about the maps they buy. "Previously, some teaching material suppliers used the same color to identify Taiwan and China on their maps or globes. We issued the document to ask school administrators to remind their textbook suppliers not to repeat the mistake," Chiu said. The document said Taipei should be marked as the capital of the ROC with an explanation saying it is the seat of the central government. The explanation was necessary, the document said, because Nanjing is actually the ROC capital according to the Constitution, an assertion that is simply not true as Lee noted. Chiu said he was willing to be disciplined to take responsibility for the error. (By Tseng Ying-yu and Sofia Wu)