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Taiwan's office in Fiji changes name again under Chinese pressure

11/22/2023 04:23 PM
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The national flag of Fiji flies in front of the TWTC International Trade Building in Taipei in this undated photo. CNA file photo
The national flag of Fiji flies in front of the TWTC International Trade Building in Taipei in this undated photo. CNA file photo

Taipei, Nov. 22 (CNA) Taiwan's representative office in Fiji has again changed its name, this time removing the official name of the country -- the Republic of China (ROC) -- from the title at the request of Fiji's government due to Chinese pressure.

In March, the office's website changed the name listed on its website from "Taipei Trade Office in Fiji" to "Trade Mission of the Republic of China (Taiwan) to the Republic of Fiji."

The move came after the new Fiji government, which is considered to be more friendly toward Taiwan than its predecessor, notified MOFA that its representative office there could revert to its former name, which included "ROC."

The new government allowed the move even though Fiji has formal diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China (PRC), which frowns at any symbol conveying the idea that the ROC is a sovereign entity.

Since then, however, Fiji had faced pressure from the PRC to have Taiwan change the office's name back to the one without "Republic of China (Taiwan)," according to Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) spokesman Jeff Liu (劉永健) back in June.

Asked to comment on the latest developments, Liu told CNA on Wednesday that the office's website changed back to its former name -- the Taipei Trade Office in Fiji -- on Sept. 8, due to the demands made by the Fiji government.

Taiwan has since issued an official protest to the Fiji government over pressuring Taipei on the matter, he said.

Aside from allowing Taiwan to use its official name, the Fiji government in March also announced that diplomatic privileges for Taiwanese diplomats at the representative office, which had been revoked in 2018, would be restored in accordance with Fiji's Diplomatic Privileges and Immunities Act 1971.

In response, Taiwan's government thanked the Fiji administration and expressed the hope that the two sides would continue to deepen their friendly relations.

The decisions announced in March were made despite the lack of formal diplomatic relations between the ROC and Fiji after Fiji elected a new government in December 2022, bringing a Taiwan-friendly three-party coalition to power.

The previous Fiji administration had forced the Taiwan representative office in 2018 to change its name to the "Taipei Trade Office in Fiji," according to MOFA.

The Republic of Fiji was the first Pacific island country to establish diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China in 1975. China set up an embassy there in 1976, and Fiji opened its embassy in China in 2001.

Despite the lack of official diplomatic ties with the ROC, Fiji leaders have visited Taiwan and have advocated on several occasions for Taiwan's participation in international organizations, according to a diplomatic source, who asked not to be named.

(By Joseph Yeh)

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