China's Taiwan Squeeze Continues: Trade Office in Ecuador Forced to Change Name

China's Taiwan Squeeze Continues: Trade Office in Ecuador Forced to Change Name
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The name changes are widely seen as part of China's stepped-up efforts to pressure Taiwan since the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen took office.

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Another Taiwan trade office has had its name changed under pressure from China, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Tuesday.

The ministry's official website shows that Oficina Comercial de la Republica de China (Taiwan), Quito, Ecuador has been changed to Oficina Comercial de Taipei.

Ministry spokeswoman Eleanor Wang (王珮玲) said the Ecuadorian government demanded the name change, and the ministry has expressed serious regret and has lodged a protest.

She said that in light of the protection of overseas Taiwanese and the maintenance of bilateral trade relations, the office has continued normal operations to handle affairs related to consular matters, Taiwanese expatriates and bilateral trade. Taiwan's trade office in Dubai changed its name from the "Commercial Office of ROC (Taiwan) " to the "Commercial Office of Taipei" last month.

Taiwan's trade office in Nigeria is also preparing to embark on a relocation operation of its trade mission in Abuja, the capital city of the African nation, the ministry said.

Antonio Chen (陳俊賢), director-general of the ministry's Department of West Asian and African Affairs, said recently that Nigeria informed Taiwan in late March that the trade mission should leave or it could not guarantee its safety.

Chen also said five Taiwan trade offices with the "Republic of China" or "Taiwan" in their names located in countries that do not have diplomatic ties with Taiwan have come pressure from China to change their names.

Chen said that if the names of those missions continue to be used, the host countries may ask that the plaques identifying the missions be removed.

Excluding Dubai and Ecuador, three trade missions currently retain "the Republic of China" or "Taiwan" in their names -- the Trade Mission of the ROC (Taiwan), Abuja, Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Trade Mission of Taiwan to the Kingdom of Bahrain and the Commercial Office of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in Jordan.

The name changes are widely seen as part of China's stepped-up efforts to pressure Taiwan since the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office on May 20, 2016 and adopted a less conciliatory attitude toward China than its predecessor.

Just two weeks ago, Panama announced the switch of diplomatic ties from Taipei to Beijing and the cutting of all official ties with Taiwan, a decision that left only 20 countries that officially recognize the Republic of China (Taiwan).

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Taiwan’s Foreign Trade Offices are Under Pressure from China to Change their Names