TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced Tuesday evening it would recall 285 passports already handed out to citizens with an image of Washington Dulles International Airport after first announcing it would distribute all 200,000 already printed.
The embarrassing flap came to light earlier in the day when netizens said they recognized the image of the airport in the United States, but the initial reaction from MOFA was that the picture represented Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and was therefore “100 percent Taiwanese scenery.”
The U.S. airport was opened in 1962, and some reports say Taoyuan’s Terminal One, completed in 1979 was modeled on Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen’s design for Dulles.
At a news conference during the afternoon, MOFA said the designers of the new passport had sought inspiration online, and had mistakenly chosen a photo of Dulles as the model for their image of Taoyuan’s Terminal One.
A total of 200,000 copies of the new e-passport had already been printed, but they would not be recalled or destroyed, because that might cause some applicants to have to wait too long, MOFA said.
However, a few hours later, MOFA changed its story, announcing it would inform all 285 citizens who had already received the passport that they should hand it back. The 200,000 with the wrong image would not be used, but the printing company would be asked to come up with a new design, and hopefully the new documents would be ready a month from now, the Central News Agency reported.
In the meantime, applicants would receive first-generation e-passports which were still in stock, MOFA said.