Alex Kafka writes: The Chinese “ambassador” character 使 on John Pemberton’s photo caught my attention. It seemed familiar, and in fact I had seen it last November in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan.
Taiwan has diplomatic relations with only 23 countries. All others have abandoned it in favour of mainland China. Therefore diplomatic plates are rare and I was thrilled to see three: numbers 19, 299 and 359.
Last time Taiwanese diplomatic plates were reported, they had a yellow panel with a black character 外, which means something like “foreign”. But now the panel was red and the character was 使. This is in fact similar to the way the plates looked in the 1970’s (white on red, and 使). Does anyone know when they changed back from yellow to red?
The car with 359 carried a blue-white-blue flag (see photo). Unfortunately there was hardly any wind and the flag never quite unfurled. Now Wikipedia has a list of the possible 23 countries: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_diplomatic_missions_of_the_Republic_of_China, very helpfully with flags. It turns out that there are three possible candidates with similar flags: El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. Luckily, although the centre of the flag is poorly visible on my photo, part of it got reflected in the shiny bodywork of the car, enough to reveal a piece of the coat of arms of Nicaragua! (Compare the enlarged detail of the photo with Nicaragua’s flag, from the Internet.)
Does anyone know if the plate numbers are coded or blocked by embassy? From the single sighting of 359 for Nicaragua it’s hard to draw any conclusions. The other cars, 19 and 299, were caught moving in traffic; there was no time to look for any clues.
Alexander Kavka (Eu.575)