What you need to know
The passport sticker that replaces the ROC symbol with a “Republic of Taiwan” image has been rejected by customs in Macau, Singapore and Hong Kong. However the stickers have been considered valid in most Western countries.
Translated by Yuan-ling Liang
On February 27, two Taiwanese tourists set off to Hong Kong from Kaohsiung International Airport but were repatriated back to Taiwan because of the “Republic of Taiwan” stickers on their passports.
20 cases of stickers rejected upon entry
The Hong Kong Immigration Department states that the agents suspected the travellers of not being authorized to modify their passports. So they questioned both passengers and denied their entry. The two tourists were then sent back to Taiwan.
The Immigration Department emphasizes that nobody is allowed to modify their passport or use a passport that has been modified. This may violate Cap 115 of the Immigration Ordinance. The offenders could be accused and would be fined up to HK$150,000 (approximately US$19,000) and sentenced 14 years in jail if convicted. “Any modification made to the passport can influence its validity for entry,” says the Immigration Department.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) of Taiwan points out that three Taiwanese were refused entry in Singapore due to the same passport sticker issue last year. Other than Hong Kong, Macau customs denied 15 Taiwanese entrance into the country for the same reason last month. These add up to more than 20 cases since last year.
The MOFA says that people should think twice before sticking the stickers on their passports since passports are “official documents” and should not be modified randomly. “We suggest people be aware of their safety and rights to enter foreign countries,” says the MOFA.
Origin of the stickers
In 2012, the DPP made a series of stickers reading “Taiwan is my country,” in response to China citing Taiwan as part of PRC’s territory. Since then, the MOFA has been warning people that the stickers might violate the law. The government even passed a regulation last year to prohibit people from adding stickers on their passports.
In 2015, Denis Chen, designer of the controversial stickers, created a set of stickers that allow Taiwanese people to modify their passports and turn it into a “Republic of Taiwan” passport.
In legislator Yu Mei-nu’s interrogatory towards the MOFA last week, Yu accused the government of not protecting Taiwanese of their freedom of speech and mentioned the rights given under the Constitution cannot be offended.
Valid in countries except for China
The Taiwan Passport Sticker posts on their Facebook page stating, “ Besides China, Macau and Singapore, Hong Kong has also become one of the countries repressing the ‘Republic of Taiwan’ stickers. It is obvious how ‘Communist China’ behind two special districts and a totalitarian island is so afraid of the power ‘Republic of Taiwan’ stickers may affect people’s thoughts.”
Inspired by the Taiwanese, people in Hong Kong also begun to make personalized stickers a few months ago to cover the China symbol on their passports. To prevent the effect from spreading, Chinese officials recently started to deny Taiwanese people’s entry in Hong Kong.
The Republic of Taiwan stickers are proved to be valid in all the countries except for China. It is even more convenient to use the stickers in the US and UK since it helps distinguish Taiwanese people from the Chinese.”
Edited by Olivia Yang
Hong Kong Headline
Liberty Times News
“15 ‘Republic of Taiwan’ sticker cases denied entry, says MOFA" (China Post)
“Personalized ‘Republic of Taiwan’ passport stickers stir controversy" (Shanghaiist)
Radio Taiwan International