PRC returns mail bearing stamp of 'U.N. for Taiwan'

MAC slams China's action as 'uncivilized,' says stamp will only be used on request now

The Mainland Affairs Council yesterday denounced China's recent return of mail stamped with Taiwan's "U.N. bid" logo, calling China's action "uncivilized behavior" and accusing China of breaking general mail-delivery practices.
China said yesterday it was returning all letters and parcels stamped with the "U.N. for Taiwan" postmark, arguing the message advocates independence of the island territory.
Taiwan's post offices, however, said that after November 15 they would use the stamp only on customers' request.
The MAC said in a statement that the "U.N. for Taiwan" logo was just a normal postmark, a general practice adopted by many countries to promote government policy or to commemorate special events. This is a legitimate practice, fully in accordance with the Universal Postal Treaty, the MAC said.
The council said that in the past China politicized every issue related to cross-strait relations. If mail or official documents contained the words "Republic of China" the Chinese government would blot or smear the words, the MAC said.
"On October 1, post offices in Taiwan began to stamp mail with the logo " U.N. for Taiwan," the MAC noted. "Mail sent to other countries has not been rejected or returned. We call on China not to adopt such an uncivilized practice, and to protect the people's right to free correspondence."
Fan Liqing, spokeswoman for China's Taiwan Affairs Office, said yesterday that Taiwan authorities had urged the postal services to stamp the logo on outgoing mail in Chinese and English.
"This is brazenly using the postal service to engage in propaganda advocating Taiwan independence, and the mainland's post offices have been ordered to return all mail with such postmarks to Taiwan," Fan said.
Fan did not elaborate on how much mail had already been returned, but said all the consequences of the returned mail must be borne by the Taiwan authorities.
"This is a violation of the right of Taiwanese people to freely communicate and has severely influenced the communications between the two sides of the strait," Fan told journalists.
The Taiwan Post Co. said 158 letters stamped with the mark were returned from China between October 1 and November 13.
Chang Chin-mu, section director of the Taiwan Post Co, said every day around 200 letters addressed to foreign destinations, including China, had been stamped with the logo.
Chang said among the 158 letters returned, 93 were sent by stamp collectors who mailed their letters with newly issued stamps, and the Taiwan Post Co. had returned these letters to the senders.
The other 65 letters among the 158 returned from China were personal correspondence, and the Taiwan Post Co. had put them into new envelopes with new stamps and had sent them back to China, Chang said.
According to Chang, the company had engaged in some internal discussion at the beginning when the company was told to use the postmark, and had decided not to stamp too many letters being sent to China with the postmark.
Chang said so far the postmarks were all stamped by company's central mail- processing stations, and after November 15 the company would have its local branches issue the logos. People who are interested in having their mail stamped with the logos should ask local post-offices to do so, Chang said.