Taiwan representative in Japan does not like “Chinese Taipei”

Frank Hsieh explained Taiwan's complex name situation at Meiji University

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Taiwan representative in Japan Frank Hsieh addressing Meiji University (photo from Hsieh's Facebook page).

Taiwan representative in Japan Frank Hsieh addressing Meiji University (photo from Hsieh's Facebook page).

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – During a speech at Japan’s prestigious Meiji University, Taiwan’s representative in the country, Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), said he did not like to use the term “Chinese Taipei” to describe Taiwan.

A member of the audience pointed out that Taiwan was using many different names at home and on the international scene, adding he wanted to know what Hsieh’s favorite was.

At the start of his speech, the former premier introduced Taiwan as a de facto independent nation with its own president, parliament, judiciary, military and currency, with “Republic of China” (ROC) as its official name, the Apple Daily reported.

The majority of Taiwanese people preferred “Taiwan” as its name, but the name according to the Constitution was “Republic of China,” and amending the Constitution was a difficult thing to do, Hsieh said.

In addition to domestic elements, parts of the international community such as United States and China were opposed to any changes, the Apple Daily quoted him as saying.

Domestically, the official name would be ROC, while overseas, ROC would be used in contacts with official diplomatic allies and Taiwan for countries or international organizations which did not recognize Taipei, Hsieh said. Further possibilities were “Tai Peng Kin Ma (台澎金馬),” referring to the islands of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu, or “Chinese Taipei” (中華台北).

However, Hsieh emphasized he did not like the latter formula because it was the result of a compromise forced by China’s demands to use “Taipei, China” or “Taiwan, China.” In English, “Chinese Taipei” and “Taipei, China” sounded too alike so he didn’t like using such a name, Hsieh told his audience.

As Taiwan and Japan did not maintain official diplomatic links and the Taiwanese representative office amounted to a private organization, its name did not directly use the country name.

Hsieh said he preferred to call himself “the representative of Taiwan in Japan” rather than the official “representative of Taipei in Japan” because the latter formula could confuse people.

There is currently a petition campaign on to have Taiwan participate in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics under the name “Taiwan” instead of the “Chinese Taipei” name current at international sports events.