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US against Taiwan's moves to alter names
Updated: 2004-12-07 11:21

The United States said it is against moves by Taiwan to drop any references to China in its official name, warning it would disrupt the status quo in delicate cross strait relations.

"Our view on that is that, frankly, we're not supportive of them," State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said.

Taiwanese leader Chen Shui-bian pledged at the weekend to push for increased use of "Taiwan," rather than the island's official designation of Republic of China (ROC).

His move to alter the names of Taiwan's missions abroad and government-run enterprises is sure to rile Beijing.

"These changes of terminology for government-controlled enterprises or economic and cultural offices abroad, in our view, would appear to unilaterally change Taiwan's status and for that reason we're not supportive of them," Ereli said.

China has vowed to reunify with Taiwan, by force if necessary, and opposes its entry to any world body as a country. Taiwan uses the name "Chinese Taipei" in most international organisations and sports meetings.

Ereli said the United States wanted to maintain stability in cross-straits relations.

"That's what we want to see," he said. "And we are, therefore, opposed to any unilateral steps that would change the status quo."

Since Chen's re-election in May for a second term, China has renewed its long-standing vow to take the island by force should it declare formal independence.

Chen says he will not push for formal independence for the island but insisted on a referendum in 2006 on a new constitution, despite concerns from Washington and strong objections from Beijing.

The United States recognises China's position that Taiwan is part of China but is bound by law to offer Taiwan the means of self-defence if its security is threatened.

Washington remains the leading arms supplier to Taiwan even though it moved diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979.

Taiwan's leader said that government-run companies will drop any references to China in their names to avoid being confused with mainland firms - a move Beijing will likely view as another dangerous step toward formal independence.

Chen Shui-bian told supporters Sunday that the companies will be given two years to change their names. The firms could include China Airlines, China Steel Corp., China Shipbuilding and Chinese Petroleum Corp.

Taiwanese "Premier" Yu Shyi-kun told reporters Monday that changing the companies' names was necessary to avoid confusion. He noted that China Airlines - biggest airline in Taiwan - is often confused with Air China, the Chinese flag carrier.

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