China has Taiwan removed from biography of speaker at U.S. university

Confucius Institute was behind the pressure: Foreign Policy contributor

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A statue of Confucius near Beijing's Tiananmen Square, 2011.

A statue of Confucius near Beijing's Tiananmen Square, 2011. (By Associated Press)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – In the latest example of a Chinese campaign directed against mentions of Taiwan, the name of the island was removed from the biography of a “Foreign Policy” contributor speaking at Savannah State University in the United States, the journal reported Wednesday.

Bullying from Beijing has led to Taiwanese offices overseas forced to change their names, foreign airlines having to stop listing Taiwan as a separate country, and even graffiti with the Chinese characters for Taiwan on a map having to be covered up.

In the journal, Foreign Policy contributor Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian wrote how “Taiwan was scrubbed from my biography” as she was to give a keynote speech and accept an award at the college in the state of Georgia.

She said the co-director of the university’s Confucius Institute was the one who had insisted on the removal before programs for the address were printed. She had threatened to boycott the event as she claimed the inclusion of the term “Taiwan” challenged Chinese sovereignty, Allen-Ebrahimian wrote in Foreign Policy.

The same official had apparently also once tried to prevent a teacher of Taiwanese heritage from taking part in a public school teacher program affiliated with the Confucius Institute.

The institute, which is sponsored by the Chinese government to spread Chinese language and culture studies, has 500 branches around the world.

After Allen-Ebrahimian’s speech, which focused on human rights abuse and censorship under President Xi Jinping, the Confucius Institute official came over to complain she had failed to mention the positive sides of China, the Foreign Policy writer reported.

An official at the institute in Washington, D.C. said that since it focused on culture and education, political topics like Taiwan should be avoided at its events, Allen-Ebrahimian wrote.