Yu says use of ‘Taiwan, ROC’ to reduce confusion

TAICHUNG, Taiwan, The China Post Staff

Premier Yu Shyi-kun defended his use of “Taiwan, ROC” for the nation as a need to distinguish the island from the mainland, but some ruling party lawmakers were picky about the punctuation of the English title yesterday.

Yu, who used “Taiwan, ROC” in his address to the Honduran parliament Wednesday, told reporters Thursday that he did not want the world to mistake Taiwan for China. Taiwan has done a lot to help its diplomatic allies, but the credit has often gone to China because of the name confusion, Yu said in Nicaragua, the last stop of his current three-nation tour in Central America. “The good works have all gone to the grave,” Yu said, citing a Taiwanese proverb meaning misplaced credits. In Taiwan, arguments have heated up over the name, with some lawmakers from Democratic Progressive Party refusing to accept what they called a “backpedalling” term that means Taiwan is only a part of the Republic of China.

Outspoken DPP Legislator Shen Fu-hsiung objected to the “comma” between “Taiwan” and “ROC,” suggesting replacing it with either a dot or a dash — “Taiwan.ROC” or “Taiwan — ROC” — to mean that both terms are equal.

Shen said he had consulted former Foreign Minister Jason Hu, who agreed that the comma was unacceptable.

Hu, now Kuomintang mayor of Taichung, had worked out seven different monikers for the nation during his reign at the Foreign Ministry, said Shen.

Shen jeered at Yu’s command of the English language. Citing Yu as once telling lawmakers that “My English is very bad,” Shen said: “Your English is really poor.” Legislator Lee Chun-yi, whip of the DPP caucus, said he would accept it if it were “Taiwan (ROC).” But none of them suggested the use of a slash — “Taiwan/ROC” — which is a widely used punctuation in the academic world to indicate ambiguities, observers said. The opposition KMT played down the controversy.

KMT spokesman Tsai Cheng-yuan was cited by the United Evening News as saying Yu’s use could be accepted on the grounds of diplomatic pragmatism, as long as the national title is not formally changed. A presidential spokesman reiterated that Yu’s controversial designation for the nation has nothing to do with a change of the country’s national title or an alteration of national policy.

The spokesman, Chen Wen-tsung, pointed out that “ROC,” “Taiwan,” and “Taiwan, ROC,” are all often used when referring to the country.

He quoted President Chen Shui-bian as reiterating that the next constitutional reform will involve nothing about independence or unification, nor any changes to the country’s official title.

The policy has remained unchanged, the spokesman stressed.

Cabinet spokesman Chen Chi-mai said top priority is given to “ROC,” followed by “Taiwan,” and then “Taiwan, ROC” in a government-approved list of names for the nation. Please see PREMIER on page

In his upcoming trip to Belize, President Chen is going to refer to the country as “Republic of China (Taiwan)” — the fourth name in the list, the Cabinet spokesman said.

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng said that using the term “Taiwan, ROC” will help differentiate the island from the mainland in dealing with countries that have no formal ties with Taipei. Wang said it is politically right for the government to use the formal title of “ROC” when dealing with diplomatic allies, such as Honduras.

But he declined to comment on whether it was right for Yu to use the term “Taiwan, ROC” when addressing the Honduran legislature.

The pro-independence Alliance to Campaign for Rectifying the Name of Taiwan, a group that has been behind the “Call Taiwan Taiwan” movement, acclaimed Yu’s use of “Taiwan, ROC” as “inspiring.”

Wang Hsien-chi, executive director of the alliance, said they would have been even more pleased if Yu had gotten rid of the word “ROC,” or had used the term “Republic of Taiwan.”