A number of Taiwanese citizens have been altering their passports with stickers to read “Republic of Taiwan” instead of the original “Republic of China”. Although the Taiwanese government previously expressed differing opinions regarding the practice, on April 6, the legislature finally lifted punishment on Taiwanese citizens that “add, modify or delete markings” from their travel documents.
The ruling prompted many of China’s state-run newspapers to lash out at the Taiwanese legislature in anger.
The China Daily USA described the ruling as “a meaningless and unnecessary political gimmick that only further poisons trust across the Taiwan Strait.”
The Global Times warned of future repercussions for Taiwanese passport holders who continue to use the altered passports: “The mainland’s influence is much bigger than Taiwan’s” and, “as long as the mainland is willing, it is not hard to stonewall those with the ‘sticker passports’ at immigration control points everywhere in the world.”
Taiwan’s altered passports have influenced the grassroots independence movement in neighboring Hong Kong. Last November saw the emergence of Hong Hong passports that were similarly altered with stickers. Originally labelled as “Hong Kong, Special Administrative Region, People’s Republic of China,” the altered passports simply read “Hong Kong” in English and Chinese.