By Stacy Hsu / Staff reporter
Taiwan’s representative offices overseas are operating smoothly, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday, after Papua New Guinea （PNG） asked the Taiwan office there to change its name due to Chinese pressure.
Speaking at a routine news conference in Taipei, ministry spokesman Andrew Lee （李憲章） said that the Trade Mission of the Republic of China （on Taiwan） in Papua New Guinea had been asked to change its name, as well as remove its nameplate and diplomatic license plates on vehicles.
The request came from the PNG government as a result of pressure from Beijing, and the ministry has lodged a protest with PNG’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and its representative office in Taiwan, Lee said.
“We are still fighting for our rights,” Lee said, adding that negotiations were ongoing.
“It is deeply regrettable that at a time when our nation is recovering from the aftermath of the Hualien earthquake, Beijing chose to blatantly publicize its suppression of Taiwan, hurting the feelings of Taiwanese and provoking negative reactions,” he said.
Lee was referring to comments made on Sunday by Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang （耿爽） in response to reporters’ questions over allegations that the Taiwan trade office had been asked to rename itself the “Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Papua New Guinea.”
Geng’s response was published on the ministry’s official WeChat account, in which he said the Chinese government “acknowledges and highly appreciates” the PNG government’s adherence to the “one China” principle in handling Taiwan-related issues.
“It is just further proof that upholding the ‘one China’ principle is the consensus of the international community and corresponds with the trend of the times,” Geng said.
Asked whether the name change was requested due to the term “Republic of China （on Taiwan）” and if it is to be replaced with “Taipei,” Lee declined to comment, saying the potential name adjustment pertained to ongoing negotiations between the two sides.