Taipei, Sept. 2 (CNA) Taiwan's government has released a new design for the country's passport highlighting the English word for "Taiwan" in the hope of drawing a clearer distinction between Taiwan and China.
The new cover repositions and significantly shrinks the words "Republic of China" (R.O.C.), the country's official name, making them hard to see at first glance, while enlarging and using a bold font for "Taiwan."
The Chinese version of "Republic of China" remains at the top of the cover, but the English version of the name originally positioned below the Chinese now circles the national emblem in the middle of the cover.
Below the emblem, the word "Taiwan" has not only been made noticeably larger but also been repositioned.
The current passport shows the word "Taiwan," the Chinese word for "passport" under that, and the English word for "passport" under that, but the new version puts the Chinese word for "passport" at the top, with the next two lines reading "Taiwan" and "passport."
At a press conference announcing the new design Wednesday, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said the redesign was in response to a resolution passed by lawmakers in July that asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) to highlight "Taiwan" over "China" on the passport cover.
"The new cover keeps all the same elements we have on the existing cover but we highlighted the English word for 'Taiwan' and moved it close to the word 'passport' to make it clear that the passport is a Taiwan passport," Wu said.
MOFA has notified the International Air Transport Association, foreign governments, airports, airlines and immigration authorities around the world about the upcoming passport cover change and sent samples of the new cover to them, Wu said.
The passport with the new cover design is scheduled to be issued on January 2021. People using existing passports can continue to use them until they expire, Wu said.
The ministry did not disclose how much it would cost to carry out the new passport cover design but said its annual net cost for passports is about NT$1.5 million (US$50,650) after deducting the revenue from passport purchases.
In Taiwan, applying for a new passport costs NT$1,300.
In a resolution passed on July 22, lawmakers asked MOFA to update the nation's passport to highlight "Taiwan" over "China" and the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) to devise "feasible" ways to rename state-run China Airlines Ltd. (CAL) to differentiate it from its Chinese counterpart.
The word "China" in Taiwan's official name has resulted in Taiwanese citizens being mistaken for nationals from mainland China, lawmakers argued, though no estimates have been given of how many travelers have actually been affected in that way.
The resolution for the airline name modification, meanwhile, stated that MOTC should study and propose a feasible renaming plan for CAL.
In the early stage, it should mainly focus on a redesign of the aircraft's livery -- which does not involve negotiations to change aviation rights -- such as emphasizing the word "Taiwan" or an image of Taiwan in its design.