Taiwan has been forced to destroy around 200,000 passports after designers accidentally used an image of Washington Dulles International Airport instead of its own Taoyuan International.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Mofa) admitted on Tuesday that it would need to recall 285 passports already issued and pulp the remainder.
The error came to light after someone on Facebook noticed that the outline of an airport on the document’s pages, intended to be the airport that serves the capital, Taipei, was in fact Dulles International, DC’s bustling hub.
The first person to spot the blunder captioned the photo as the “51st state of America”, before the image was widely shared on Weibo, a microblogging site in China.
At a glance | Dulles v Taoyuan
Mofa initially denied the allegation, adding that the image of Taiwan Taoyuan was “100 per cent Taiwanese scenery”, but later backtracked, explaining that designers had sought online inspiration and mistook Dulles for Taiwan’s largest airport.
The mistake was somewhat understandable after it emerged that Taoyuan’s Terminal One, finished in 1979, was modelled on the 1962 design of architect Eero Saarinen’s Dulles.
Mofa has said all copies of the erroneous passport would be replaced, and a new designed would be printed and ready in January.
Applicants without a document in the meantime can apply for an e-passport, Mofa said.
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