Taiwanese photographer pulls photo from contest after WMO kowtows to China

Taiwanese weather photographer pulls photo from calendar contest after World Meteorological Organization bows to Beijing  

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Fu Ie-feng photo posted on World Meteorological Organization Facebook page.

Fu Ie-feng photo posted on World Meteorological Organization Facebook page.

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- A Taiwanese photographer has withdrawn his entry for a photo competition organized by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), after the specialized United Nations agency changed the country of the photograph's origin from Taiwan to "Taiwan, Province of China," reports ETtoday

As part of its competition to select 13 photos for its 2019 calendar under the theme The Sun, the Earth and the Weather, the WMO selected "Lighting Undar a Starry Sky" (閃電星空) as one of the 75 finalists among a list of 1,000 entries. Captioned "Thor help me light up the clouds," the photo was captured by photographer and Central Weather Bureau (CWB) staff member Fu Ie-feng (傅譯鋒) while on a trip to Taiwan's outlying Pengjia islet.

Initially, the location of the photo was listed on the WMO's Facebook page as "Taiwan," however; it later changed the country of origin to "Taiwan, Province of China." The CWB lodged a protest against the WMO's decision to change the status of Taiwan on its Facebook page, but the organization refused.


Screenshots of Facebook showing before and after labeling of location by WMO.

Fu said that the WMO's move was totally unacceptable and requested the organization restore the location to Taiwan via Facebook messages and e-mails, but the WMO stubbornly refused. Wu Wan-hua (伍婉華), a senior specialist at the bureau, said that after protests by the CWB and Fu, the WMO only indicated that the location name was "in line with the United Nations’ practice."

As an alternative to listing the country as the location, Fu proposed using the longitude and latitude coordinates, but this proposal was also rejected as unfeasible.

On Sept. 12, the CWB confirmed that the WMO would not restore the location to its original name and expressed regret at the decision. Fu decided to remove his photo from the competition and declined requests for interviews on the matter. 

In response, the WMO said it respected Fu's request and in the photo album on Facebook where the image had been placed, the organization wrote "At the request of the photographer Fu Ie-feng, the WMO has withdrawn his work (Thor help me light up the clouds)."

Facebook followers of the WMO have had two weeks since Aug. 31 to select the final 13 photos out of 75 finalists for the calendar.