November 15, 2007 / 4:46 AM / in 12 years

Taiwan drops "U.N." stamp as China returns to sender

A postal worker poses with letters stamped with the "U.N. for Taiwan" postmark at a post office in Taipei, November 15, 2007. Taiwan slammed China for refusing to accept letters stamped with a controversial "U.N. for Taiwan" postmark, but the postal service said it would stop using the logo unless asked for it. REUTERS/Nicky Loh

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan slammed China for refusing to accept letters stamped with a controversial “U.N. for Taiwan” postmark, but the postal service said it would stop using the logo unless asked for it.

China has claimed sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan, which is recognised diplomatically by just a handful of countries, since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949 and it has blocked its successive bids to join the United Nations.

As part of a campaign this year to win U.N. membership, Taiwan Post began putting “U.N. for Taiwan” postmarks on letters as well as on trains, in public plazas and on store receipts.

But on Wednesday China’s postal service said it was refusing to handle any mail bearing the U.N. campaign slogan.

China-Taiwan postal links are crucial, as trade is brisk between the two sides despite icy political ties that have severed other links.

Taiwan Post, which has come under criticism from some at home as well for playing politics with the mail, said late on Wednesday it would no longer use the U.N. stamp unless senders requested it.

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, which oversees relations with China, defended the post office’s use of the stamp.

“It’s quite common for countries around the world to use postmarks for all kinds of memorials or promotions,” it said in a statement on Wednesday.

“For a receiving country to remove letters and inappropriately send them back violates international postal practice.”

Reporting by Ralph Jennings, editing by Doug Young

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