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Taiwan unveils new passport to emphasise difference with China

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By Euronews with AP
Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, center, at a Sept 2, 2020, news conference to reveal the new Taiwan passport in Taipei, Taiwan.
Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, center, at a Sept 2, 2020, news conference to reveal the new Taiwan passport in Taipei, Taiwan.   -   Copyright  Executive Yuan via AP
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Taiwan unveiled a redesigned passport on Wednesday on which "Republic of China" appears much smaller in a bid to avoid confusion with Beijing-issued passports.

Introduced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the green passport's redesign now predominantly features "Taiwan" written in bold capital letters with "Republic of China" — the island's official name according to its constitution — downgraded as part of the logo. It was previously written in English at the top of the cover page.

"Times change and so do passport," the ministry said on Twitter. "Taiwan is front and center of the new design. Greater visibility equals easier recognition and less confusion.

It added on Facebook that the redesign's aim is to "aid in promoting the recognition of the Taiwan passport abroad and t ensure Taiwanese citizens are afforded the rights and benefits they are entitled to".

Taiwan was handed over from Japanese to Chinese rule in 1945. Four years later, Chiang Kai-shek relocated the Republic of China and its institutions to the island as Mao Zedong's Communist Party swept to power in the Chinese Civil War.

Taiwan has since shrugged off political connections with China as part of its transition to full democracy. However, it has retained Republic of China as its official name, along with the constitution, flag and state institutions brought from China.

Despite the political divide, China continues to claim Taiwan as its own territory and has required foreign countries and multinational companies to refer to the island as a part of China.

Beijing does not recognise Taiwan's passport and requires citizens of the island travelling to the mainland to use a Chinese-issued document. According to the Henley & Partners Passport index, it is the 33rd best passport in the world, granted access to 146 countries and territories around the world.

China has not yet reacted to the announcement.

The new passport is to be released in January. The Ministry said it has contacted the International Air Transport Association, foreign governments, and customs and immigration officials abroad to inform them of the changes and to provide them with samples.