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September 25, 2017

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Major Taipei decision alters Mongolia's status

Taiwan has freed itself from decades of ideological shackling by defining people from Mongolia as foreigners, although it has stopped short of declaring formal recognition for the independent country.

The changes to the enforcement regulations of the cross-strait law, which used to also define Taiwan's relations with Mongolia (formerly referred to as Outer Mongolia), were adopted last month without much publicity.

The original regulations defined the mainland as areas under the Chinese communists' control, plus Mongolia. But the changes have now excluded the East central Asian country that has been independent from mainland China for decades.

Accordingly, Mongolia is excluded from the cross-strait law, meaning its people are now considered foreigners entitled to visas, instead of entry permits, when they visit the island.

Mongolia declared independence from China in 1945, and became the Mongolian People's Republic.

While Beijing recognized Ulan Bator and established bilateral diplomatic relationships in 1949, the ROC's Constitution has continued to include the independent nation in its definition of China.

Some lawmakers yesterday criticized the new definition as a violation to the Constitution, while the media called it a recognition of Mongolia as an independent country.

During a question-and-answer session at the Legislature, Kuomintang Legislator Kuan Wo-nuan complained that the government adopted the changes without notifying the Legislature.

He questioned Premier Yu Shyi-kun whether it meant a formal recognition of Mongolia.

The premier maintained that the revisions to the law were merely meant to facilitate exchanges with Mongolia, and were not supposed to be a formal recognition of that country.

Mainland Affairs Council Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen also said the new measure did not involve any changes to ROC territory as defined in the constitution, blaming the media for over-interpreting the new rules.

The country's territory will not see any changes because of revisions to the much lower level enforcement regulations, she said.

In fact, she added, neither the government structure nor the legal framework has been revamped: the Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission and the ROC territorial map have remained the same.

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