A Taiwanese woman was refused entry to Macau on Monday because her passport was decorated with “Republic of Taiwan” stickers which advocate Taiwanese independence.

The woman called the Republic of China (Taiwan) Ministry of Foreign Affairs number for help, but she was subsequently deported back to Taiwan by the Macau customs authorities, Apple Daily reported.

Taiwanese passport with stickers.
Taiwanese passport with stickers. File Photo: Denis Chen via Facebook.

In August, supporters of Taiwan independence started a campaign to redesign their Taiwanese passport covers with stickers. The independence supporters advocate the use of “Republic of Taiwan” stickers to cover up the words “Republic of China,” and want to see stickers depicting iconic Taiwanese landmarks being employed to cover the national emblem.

The Taiwanese ministry then announced that it would be amending the Enforcement Rules of the Passport Act, banning alterations to the passport. The amendments took effect on January 1.

Passport Administration Division director Chen Shang-yu told Apple Daily that between January 1 and 28, the National Immigration Agency has been notified of a total of 180 cases concerning travellers with passport stickers. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has so far been advising the passengers to respect the relevant law.

Taiwanese passport with stickers. Photo: Denis Chen via Facebook.
Taiwanese passport with stickers. Photo: Denis Chen via Facebook.

Chen said that the ministry respects everyone’s political views, but the passport was an official document that served identification purposes abroad, and should not be used as a political tool. He also warned that under the current passport regulations, holders of passports with stickers could face a longer period of review when reapplying — or even have their passports cancelled.

Last December, three Taiwanese whose passports bore such stickers were similarly denied entry to Singapore. The authorities said that it was because the stickers made it difficult for them to verify whether the documents were authentic. Although the travellers were willing to remove the stickers, they were still not allowed into Singapore.

The American Institute in Taiwan has asked Taiwanese citizens visiting the office for consular matters to remove the stickers, while the Philippines Bureau of Immigration also said they will reject passports with such covers.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.