TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan’s Cabinet has unveiled the new design for the Taiwanese passport cover, with the intention of emphasizing the word "Taiwan" and avoid confusion with the Chinese passport.
The most significant change in the new design is that “Republic of China,” the country’s formal name, has been shrunk down to fit into a concentric circle that encloses the national emblem. "Taiwan," the word that is meant to be emphasized, has been enlarged and put at the center under the emblem.
Speaking at a press conference Wednesday morning (Sept. 2), Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) cited the outbreak of the COVID-19 in January as the main reason for the change to the passport. Many Taiwanese experienced unfair treatment upon entering other countries earlier this year because their passports were mistaken for Chinese ones, stated Wu.
Cabinet unveils new design for Taiwanese passport (Cabinet photo)
The coronavirus, which broke out in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, turned into a pandemic, forcing many countries to close their borders in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus. With countries imposing travel restrictions on China in early February, a number of tourist groups and individual travelers from Taiwan were reportedly denied entry even though those restrictions did not target Taiwan.
These incidents prompted the Taiwanese legislature, in which the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) holds a majority, to vote in favor of a new design for the country's passport in July.
Wu stressed that in line with the International Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO) regulations and the international norm, the country's official name, both in English and Mandarin, remains included in the new passport design. Advocates for the new passport cover have called on the government to remove "Republic of China" while retaining only "Taiwan" on the cover.
Taiwan’s passport has been redesigned twice in the past two decades. In 2003, the government under former President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) added “Taiwan” to its cover.
The new passports will be available in January, but the older version will remain valid. Taiwanese can apply for the new one even if their current passport has not expired, according to the Bureau of Consular Affairs (BOCA).
Original design versus new design (Taiwan News photo)