Taiwan's military drops its 'China' codenames

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 December, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 December, 2004, 12:00am

It will now use numbers instead of places on mainland

Taiwan's Defence Ministry will become the first government organ to comply with the administration's 'name rectification' campaign, which calls for government-controlled institutions to remove references to China.

From Saturday, the telephone switchboards of various military units and departments will no longer use codenames identified with Chinese provinces and cities, information warfare Vice-Commander Major-General Tseng Chang-tuan said yesterday. Numbers will be used instead.

General Tseng said the decision had nothing to do with the so-called 'de-sinoisation' drive, but was required to fit in with the automation of the military's telecommunications system.

He said it would be simple and convenient to use numerical codenames.

The codenames used by operators of the Defence Ministry's military telephone switchboards at the moment are 'Jiangsu' and 'Shanghai'.

The army's 10th Unit is known as 'Hunan', while the codename for the military command in the defence outpost of Kinmen is 'Xikang'. The military command in the resort island of Penghu is called 'Dongting', the codename for the navy headquarters is 'Guangdong', and that of the air force is 'Chongqing'.

The use of the titles of mainland cities and provinces has drawn protests from pro-independence activists, who had criticised the Defence Ministry for being unreasonable by identifying the military units with mainland cities and provinces.

'It is absurd to use those names. It is absolutely unnecessary to use the names of Chinese places,' said Tzong Chai Tung-jung, a legislator from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party.

He suggested dropping all references to China and replacing them with the names of Taiwanese places.

'Why can't we use Taipei, Tainan or Kaohsiung?' he said to the Defence Ministry last week.

General Tseng said yesterday that using numbers for switchboard codenames was good enough. He said the ministry had been gradually replacing the military's manual switchboards with a digital system since 1996.

'Unlike the old system, the new system covers the whole of Taiwan as well as the offshore islands of Kinmen and Matsu. There is no need to use the place names to identify military units,' General Tseng said.

Defence officials said the ministry used codenames with mainland references in the past to confuse mainland intelligence agencies.

However, technological advances meant there was no longer any need for those codenames.