Jan 11, 2021 14:33 UTC

Taiwan's secessionist government has introduced a newly redesigned passport, with the purported aim of helping differentiate its citizens from those of mainland China, in a move that will likely further infuriate Beijing amid the recent spike in tensions.

On the new passports, rolled out on Monday, the word "Taiwan" has been enlarged, while "Republic of China" - the territory's official name -  has been removed. It only remains in Chinese and in small English font around the national emblem.

The passports, currently in use, have “Republic of China” written in large English font at the top, with “Taiwan” printed at the bottom.

The Taipei government claims that the old passports created international confusion during the coronavirus outbreak, causing its citizens to be confused with Chinese nationals and occasionally treated badly and subjected to COVID-19-related entry bans.

It says the new passports are only meant to provide a distinction between Taiwanese and mainland Chinese citizens.

“The purpose is to increase the visibility of Taiwan so that our people will not be mistakenly identified as coming from China when they travel abroad,” she said.

Beijing has already reacted to Taipei's new passport design, by saying that Taiwan will always remain an integral part of the Chinese national territories and that such "petty moves" will be ineffectual.

Under the “One China” policy, that recognizes China’s sovereignty over Taiwan, the vast majority of world countries, the US included, do not establish formal diplomatic relations with the government in Taipei.

However, the administration of the outgoing US President Donald Trump has been responding positively to the island's secessionist President Tsai Ing-wen, providing arms to her government in recent years.