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Taipei airport name change removes China link


Taipei - In another move to cut off links with China, Taiwan plans to change the name of Taipei's major airport from Chiang Kai-shek International Airport to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, officials confirmed on Friday.

Premier Su Tseng-chang said the Transport Ministry has applied for the name change at the request of Taoyuan residents and the cabinet is expected to approve the name change next Wednesday.

"The name change has nothing to do with ideology. It is a good thing and should receive support from the public," said Transport Minister Tsai Dui.

Taiwan began building CKS International Airport - Taiwan's largest airport - in the 1970s, intending to name it Taoyuan International Airport after the county where it was located, 40km south-west of Taipei.

But when the airport opened on February 26, 1979, the name had been changed to Chiang Kai-shek International Airport, apparently at the order of Chiang Kai-shek's son Chiang Ching-kuo - who had succeeded his father as the president - to commemorate Chiang Kai-shek who had died in 1975.

Chiang Kai-shek was Taiwan's president from 1949 until 1975, and Ching-kuo succeeded him as Taiwan's president from 1978 until he died in 1988.

Chiang Kai-shek's Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang or KMT) ruled Taiwan from 1949-2000. After the pro-independence opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) came to power in 2000, it has been trying to erase all influence of the Chiangs and to cut Taiwan's links with China.

On August 12, President Chen Shui-bian said it was time for Taiwan to consider applying to join the United Nations in the name of Taiwan and to take steps to emphasise Taiwan's sovereignty, like changing the name of the Chiang Kai-shek International Airport to Taoyuan International Airport.

China, which sees Taiwan as its breakaway province, is watching closely Taiwan's "de-sinocization" moves and has warned that it would use force to recover Taiwan if Taipei seeks independence. - Sapa-dpa


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