BBC Sport corrects reference to athlete's nationality to Taiwan

BBC acknowledge Taiwanese tennis player Jason Jung cannot be ‘from’ Chinese Taipei

BBC Sport website homepage screen grab

BBC Sport website homepage screen grab

Kaohsiung (Taiwan News) -- The BBC has agreed to correct its use of the name Chinese Taipei to Taiwan in a website article about the recent Wimbledon Tennis tournament.

On July 1, the BBC Sport website published an article about the withdrawal of British tennis player Andy Murray from the tournament. It included a sentence at the end confirming that his replacement would be the Taiwanese tennis player Jason Jung (莊吉生).

However, the article incorrectly stated that Jung was “from Chinese Taipei."

BBC Sport corrects reference to athlete's nationality to Taiwan

Image Credit: Screen grab from BBC Sport website via Internet Wayback Machine

Taiwanese athletes are required to compete under the Chinese Taipei moniker because of China's refusal to let them compete as Taiwan and the Nagoya Resolution of 1979 which decided on the term Chinese Taipei.

However, it is not accurate to say that anyone is ‘from’ Chinese Taipei. Athletes can ‘represent’ Chinese Taipei, but they can only be ‘from’ Taiwan. It is an important distinction, but one often overlooked by international media outlets, who too readily pander to the Chinese line on Taiwan.

To bring this matter to the attention of the BBC, a comment was made on the corporation’s feedback form highlighting the error, however their blunt response merely stated that the use of the term Chinese Taipei was “in line with their style guidelines”.

No change was made, so a formal complaint was submitted through the BBC's lengthy and bureaucratic complaints process. Curiously, their response was completely different, stating that the BBC was merely using “information provided by the All England Tennis Club who are responsible for Wimbledon.”

A follow-up complaint was then submitted highlighting these conflicting responses and asking for clarification. It also emphasized that neither response addressed the core complaint that the original report was incorrect to state that Jason Jung is ‘from’ Chinese Taipei because there is no such country.

There followed a long delay until Friday morning when the BBC finally responded to this second complaint. And at last, seven weeks after the original article ran, and five weeks after the Wimbledon tennis tournament finished, they agreed to make the change.

Their response stated, “We raised your complaint to the BBC Sport website editors and they have looked into the matter and have now changed the line which now reads as: "Lucky loser Jason Jung from Taiwan will replace him in the draw." On reflection, we should have picked up on this we thank you for bringing this to our attention.”

Their response failed to elaborate further on the conflicting answers given to the initial complaint or why they had now agreed to make the change, but importantly it did confirm that the change had now been made and can now be seen in the original article.

BBC Sport corrects reference to athlete's nationality to Taiwan

Image Credit: Screengrab from amended article on BBC Sport website

Given that Wimbledon has long finished and no-one is likely to read this article again, some may question why this belated change matters.

But by agreeing to change this one small sentence, the BBC is setting itself an important precedent. It is acknowledging that people who compete under the Chinese Taipei moniker are from Taiwan, not China as Beijing would probably like them to state.

This recognition is important for Taiwanese athletes. But it is also important in the broader context of international coverage of Taiwan. To many articles in the international press loosely throw about the term Chinese Taipei or incorrectly refer to Taiwan as a province of China. To many media outlets also slavishly follow the CCP’s flawed ‘One China’ policy, despite their being absolutely no diplomatic requirement for them to do so.

Taiwan needs to be more proactive in ensuring that reporting about its issues and people accurately reflects their nationality and country of origin. And there is not a single person on earth who is 'from Chinese Taipei'.

Updated : 2021-03-07 14:36 GMT+08:00