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Tuesday, 26 February, 2002, 15:45 GMT
Taiwan 'embassy' changes anger China
Pro-independence demonstrators
Taiwanese independence is a sensitive issue
China has reacted angrily to Taiwanese plans to change the names of its representative offices abroad to make them easier to recognise.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan warned Taiwan against what he described as "creeping independence".

If it wants to push forward incrementally the idea of Taiwan independence, it can only meet with the resolute opposition of the Chinese people

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman
China considers the renaming of the offices as an assertion of the separate identity of the island and as a claim to international standing, something which Beijing resolutely opposes.

Currently, Taiwan maintains a number of de-facto embassies which go under such names as the Taipei Cultural and Economic Representative Office.

Under the new proposals - outlined in several Hong Kong newspapers - the word Taiwan would appear in the names instead of Taipei, its capital.

Beijing's "one China" policy stipulates that the island is a possession of the mainland.

'Resolutely opposed'

Correspondents say that China remains sensitive to any move by Taiwan which could be construed as pushing it toward independence.

"We resolutely oppose Taiwan's official ties with countries in terms of diplomatic relations. However, we are not opposed to unofficial relations," Mr Kong said.

"If it wants to push forward incrementally the idea of Taiwan independence, our position is clear. If they're bent on doing it this way, it can only meet with the resolute opposition of the Chinese people."

Over the past few months, Taiwan has angered Beijing by announcing the addition of the word "Taiwan" to its passports and changing the logo of its Information Ministry.

'Improving ties'

In a separate development, Taiwan announced that it will now require Mongolian citizens to produce passports, in effect recognising them as foreigners.

Under Taiwan's constitution, Mongolia is considered a part of the Republic of China, which is still claimed by nationalists who fled to the Taiwan after defeat by the Communists in the 1949 Civil War.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Chang Siao-yueh told AFP news agency that the move was aimed at improving ties with Mongolia.

But a statement by the Mainland Affairs Council in Taipei said the revision did not involve diplomatic recognition of Mongolia.

Beijing already recognises Mongolia's independence.

See also:

30 Jan 02 | Asia-Pacific
Taiwan leaders 'not welcome' in China
18 Jan 02 | Asia-Pacific
Taiwan approves travel to China
13 Jan 02 | Asia-Pacific
Taiwan passport change angers China
31 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
Taiwan logo change challenges China
03 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
Taiwan tells China to respect election
25 Jan 02 | Asia-Pacific
Q&A: Taiwan's relations with China
25 Jan 02 | Asia-Pacific
Taiwan welcomes China overture
27 Jul 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Mongolia
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