Swedish parliamentarians criticize name change by Swedish agency

03/10/2018 03:58 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Brussels, March 10 (CNA) The Swedish-Taiwanese Parliamentarian Association (STPA) called the Swedish Tax Agency's announced name change designating Taiwan a province of China "inappropriate," listing four key reasons for its opposition in a written letter to Sweden's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Caroline Szyber, head of the STPA, on Wednesday handed a formal letter on behalf of about 40 parliamentarians who are members of the association to Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom to convey their strong opposition to the tax office's recent announcement.

The Swedish Tax Agency on Feb. 28 announced that Taiwan would be listed as a province of China (Taiwan, Provins i Kina), instead of the Republic of China (Republiken Kina, Taiwan) on its website, starting March 12.

The letter reads that first and foremost the announced change will obscure actual facts, causing the rest of the world to assume that Taiwan is a province of China, a confusion that is unfair to the people of Taiwan.

Furthermore, the name change will inconvenience Taiwanese passport holders when going through customs in Sweden because while they enjoy a 90-day visa-free privilege, Chinese passport holders do not.

If Taiwan is listed as part of China, there will be confusion as to why the privilege exists for Taiwanese passport holders but not Chinese passport holders.

Also on the subject of visas, Swedish nationals applying for a longer than 90-day stay in Taiwan visa could mistakenly send their applications to the Chinese embassy instead of the Taiwanese representative office in the country, which is just as problematic as the aforementioned visa issue.

Lastly, Taiwan and Sweden signed a double taxation avoidance treaty in 1991.

If the name change goes into effect, Swedish businesses could mistakenly assume this was signed between China and Sweden and that would impact how they do business and hurt their bottom line.

The letter went on to say that not only is the change inappropriate, it also shows how China is attempting to eliminate Taiwan through a technicality.

The technicality is the International Organization for Standardization 3166 country codes, which lists Taiwan as part of China and on which the Swedish Tax Agency based its decision.

Szyber and her peers called on the ministry to make clear its stance on the issue and to address whether they believe Taiwan is in fact a province of China.

Taiwan's representative office in Sweden has lodged an official protest with the Swedish government against the name change and expressed its thanks for the STPA's support on the matter.

(By Tang Pei-chun and Kuan-lin Liu)


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