Dulles or Taoyuan - MOFA and netizens spar over airport image in Taiwan passport

Netizens wonder whether Taiwan has become 51st state of the U.S.

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Taiwan's new passport with the page showing an airport.

Taiwan's new passport with the page showing an airport. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) on Tuesday at first denied that an image inside the new passports showed Washington Dulles International Airport, making netizens wonder whether Taiwan had become the 51st state of the United States.

MOFA insisted the picture showed the renewed Terminal One at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. “This is 100 percent Taiwanese scenery,” said MOFA official Ou Chiang-an, according to the Liberty Times.

Distribution of Taiwan’s second-generation e-passport began Monday, but netizens soon spread the message that the airport shown on page 5 was in fact Dulles Airport in Virginia, sarcastically praising MOFA for declaring Taiwan to be the 51st state of the U.S.

At a news conference Tuesday, Ou explained the procedure in designing the new passport, and said the topics had been picked to represent the scenery in various regions of Taiwan.

Both Taoyuan and Dulles airports feature terminals resembling wings pointing upward, with the Washington airport designed by Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen and opened in 1962, while Taoyuan’s Terminal One was completed in 1979.

Later however, media began to report that an unnamed MOFA official had admitted to the office of a ruling Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker that a mistake had been made by the state printing company. Before the printing, the company had assured MOFA that there were no copyright issues with the images inside the passport, the official was quoted as saying by the Apple Daily.