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Beijing Condemns Taiwan's Removal of Word 'China' from Company Names

China has denounced Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian's decision to emphasize Taiwan's identity by removing the word "China" from official company names. As Daniel Schearf reports from Beijing, China claims the island as a province, and is sensitive to any hint of a move towards Taiwan independence.

Although the Chinese Nationalist government fled to the island of Taiwan in 1949, it maintained its claim as the government of all of China, and the word "China" - or "Chunghwa" - was kept in many official names.

But as of this week, Taiwan's postal service is no longer known as the "China Post." Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian, who favors independence for the island and misses few opportunities to emphasize Taiwan's sovereignty, has arranged for the service to be renamed the "Taiwan Post."

"China" was also removed from the names of several other government-run enterprises, including the island's central bank, the government oil company, and its shipbuilding company.

China claims Taiwan as a breakaway province that must one day be reunited with the mainland, by force if necessary. Beijing accepts the de facto separation for now, but is sensitive to anything it perceives as a step towards a formal declaration of independence.

The mainland government was accordingly unhappy with Taiwan's removal of the word "China." Li Weiyi, the spokesman for Beijing's Taiwan Affairs Office, told reporters Wednesday that people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait were against the name changes.

"Chen Shui-bian's recent repeated efforts to separate the connection with China, this plot to create an atmosphere for a legal principle for Taiwan independence…has been strongly condemned and resisted by other Taiwanese political parties and the public," Li said.

Mr. Chen's moves have indeed sparked protests in

Taiwan. Only a minority of the Taiwanese people support formal independence, Taiwanese enterprises are due to drop references to China from their names later this year.