In a letter dated 30 April 2012, ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs committee Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) called on the California Secretary of State to correct an error in its online voter registration system that forces Taiwan-born California residents to list their place of birth as “Taiwan, Province of China.”
In the previous weeks, numerous Taiwanese Americans in California tried to register to vote online, but were unable to enter their country of birth as “Taiwan”, because the drop down menu for the internet-based voter registration system in California does not allow for such an option.
Instead, the system refers to Taiwan as “Taiwan, Province of China.”
Rep. Howard Berman caught wind of this and wrote to California Secretary of State Debra L. Bowen that: “With the May 15 registration deadline quickly approaching for California voters, Taiwan-born U.S. citizens in California will be unable to register to vote without
signing their name under an inaccurate statement in an official government document.”
Berman continued: “It has been long-standing U.S. policy that the U.S. government refers to Taiwan as ‘Taiwan.’ Federal and quasi-federal agencies such as Amtrak, the U.S. Postal Service, and the U.S. State Department, all refer to Taiwan simply as “Taiwan.” He concluded: “I would respectfully request that your office, as a government agency, adopt the same terminology in reference to Taiwan.”
In 1994, Rep. Berman was the primary force behind US legislation allowing for Taiwanese Americans to list “Taiwan” as their place of birth in their American passports instead of “China.” A few days after the Berman letter, the California Secretary of State corrected the error.
In a related matter, on 19 June 2012, Congressman Berman wrote a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, urging her that DHS and its agencies such as the Customs and Border Protection stop the erronious reference to "China (Taiwan)" on I-94 and other forms. He stated in the letter: "It has been a long-standing U.S. policy that the U.S. government refers to Taiwan as "Taiwan."
Taiwan Communiqué / June/ July 2012 P. 21