President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday declared that the adoption of the name "Taiwan Post" by the state postal service "restored the original face of history," but also stated that the purpose of rectification of the names of state enterprises and agencies was not to "negate past history."
The president made the comments during speeches at two separate ceremonies to mark the unveiling of new names of state enterprises that used "Taiwan" to "rectify" former monikers that highlighted "China" or "Chinese."
The two state firms were the "Taiwan Post Co., Ltd," formerly the "Chunghwa Post Co Ltd," and the "CPC Corporation, Taiwan," or "Taiwan Chinese Petroleum" in Chinese, which was formerly known as "Chinese Petroleum Corp."
President Chen, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and Transportation Minister Tsai Dui first participated in a ceremony to mark the posting of the new name for the Taiwan Post Co Ltd at the state firm's headquarters in central Taipei amid hundreds of noisy protesters. They then rushed to Taipei's Xinyi District to participate in a far more sedate ceremony for "CPC, Taiwan."
Speaking at the first event, Chen lauded the name change as a milestone for Taiwan's postal history and "an action long awaited by the vast majority of the Taiwan people."
The president related that the late Qing Dynasty governor Liu Ming-chuan (劉銘傳) established the "Taiwan General Post Office" in 1888 which issued the first "Taiwan postage stamps," eight years earlier than the Qing Dynasty set up its own general postal administration.
Chen also noted that the name "Taiwan Post" had been retained through the period of Japanese colonial rule and most of the postwar period until 2003, when its name was changed to the "Chunghua" (or Chinese) postal service at the same time the state telecommunications company "Chunghwa Telecom" was set up.
Besides praising Premier Su Tseng-chang, Transportation Minister Tsai Dui, and Taiwan Post Chairman Lai Ching-chi for achieving the change, Chen said the switch back to "Taiwan Post" was "entirely in keeping with the principles of fairness and justice" and affirmed that "Taiwan is our common home."
The president said the change both manifested "Taiwan-centric consciousness" and "restored the original face of history."
The president said that the former authoritarian regime of the Kuomintang had "negated everything related to Taiwan due to its rigid "great China ideology" and had "completely suppressed native language, culture and artistic creation and prohibited any civic organization from using the word 'Taiwan' in their names."
Chen noted that 2007 marks the 20th anniversary of the lifting of the KMT's 38-year martial law decree and affirmed that "now Taiwan politics is entirely democratic," but observed that "many people still retain the martial law decree in their minds" and still retain the "old mentality" that sees "Taiwan" as a "monster or demon."
Chen said such politicians "sang the same tune" as the communist-ruled People's Republic of China."
"They may verbally declare their intention to 'link up with Taiwan,' but in their actions they continuously negate and denigrate Taiwan and refuse to use this beautiful and most powerful name of Taiwan to refer to our own country," Chen declared,
Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who has openly opposed the changes.
Chen also announced that the newly renamed Taiwan Post will issue the first set of "Taiwan Stamps" in nearly 100 years to mark the 60th anniversary of the February 28th Incident of 1947, in which KMT troops bloodily suppressed a popular revolt at the cost of well over 10,000 lives.
Moreover, the president stated that the restoration of the name of "Taiwan Post" was "a small step in building Taiwan to be a normal and complete country" and that it would be followed by more "rectification" moves, including the application to enter the United Nations under the name of Taiwan.
Chen acknowledged that there had been "some static, misunderstanding and obstruction" regarding the move, but expressed confidence that it "will in the end win the support and affirmation of all the people."
Speaking at the same ceremony, Premier Su said the the name change also restored eight years to the history of the Taiwan postal system by tracing its origins to January 21, 1888, when the service was established by Liu Ming-chuan instead of March 20, 1896, the date of the Qing Dynasty establishment of its central postal system, which was the date used by Chunghwa Post to celebrate its "110th birthday" on March 20, 2006.
Su also affirmed that the "entire process was fully in keeping with the regulations of law" and stressed that "even though some people are worried, the rights of employees and customers and the exclusive right of the postal administration would not be affected whatsoever" and that the changeover "will not affect year-end bonuses or other employee rights."
Speaking at the ceremony for "Taiwan Chinese Petroleum" or "CPC, Taiwan," President Chen struck a different note by declaring that the purpose of the rectification of names was "not to entirely negate everything from the past," but to realize a situation in which "the name matches reality."
The president acknowledged that some pan-green supporters were not satisfied with the new name for the state petroleum corporation, but stressed that "I have always believed that history cannot be divided and that the past tradition should not be entirely negated."
Unlike Taiwan Post, which was established in Taiwan in 1888, Chen observed that CPC had been established in Shanghai, China in 1946 and had moved to Taiwan with the KMT government in late 1949.
Chen said the change from "Chinese Petroleum" to "Taiwan Chinese Petroleum" or "CPC, Taiwan" reflected both "Taiwan-centrism" and the need to be competitive in global markets.
The president said products stamped "Made in Taiwan" command at least five percent higher prices than similar goods stamped "Made in China," and also noted that many countries concerned with the rising "Chinese threat" have set up barriers to entry into high technology research and development, infrastructure or natural gas or petroleum exploration and development by companies based in China.
"Insistence on using the name 'Chinese Petroleum' would not only be liable to create confusion and lose business opportunities, but will also cause the further loss of the value-added created by the name 'Taiwan,"' Chen warned.
The president also stated that another reason why CPC could not adopt the name "Taiwan Petroleum" was because another company had already taken the name and also pointed out that the phrase "CPC, Taiwan" did not include the phrase "China."
Government Spokesman Cheng Wen-tsan confirmed that "rectification" of other companies with large state ownership shares but that are publicly listed would require approval by stockholders meetings - not simply the board of directors, as in the cases of Taiwan Post, Taiwan Chinese Petroleum and the China Shipbuilding Corp, which will be renamed March 1 "Taiwan International Shipbuilding Corp."
Examples include Chunghwa Telecom and China Airlines, according to DPP lawmakers.