Use of term 'Chinese Taipei' harmful to Taiwan's Int'l relations: Foreign Minister

Minister Joseph Wu says that among NGOs, int'l forums, and int'l communications, the country should be referred to by its official title, or simply 'Taiwan'

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Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu

Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Following the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ (MOFA) announcement last week cautioning NGOs and other organizations against using the term “Chinese Taipei”(中華台北), Foreign Minister Joseph Wu reiterated on Dec. 17 that use of the term may be harmful to Taiwan’s foreign relations.

Speaking to the media on Monday, the Foreign Minister said that, in international forums and communications, the term “Chinese Taipei” should be avoided in favor of the country’s formal title, which remains “Republic of China” (中華民國), or “Republic of China (Taiwan).”

MOFA also explained that use of simply “Taiwan” is preferred in cases where the official title is not acceptable. The official title or Taiwan are both more appropriate than the term “Chinese Taipei.”

Wu noted that it has become increasingly common under Beijing’s influence for the term “Chinese Taipei”(中華台北) to be recorded, or translated as “Taipei, China” (中國台北).

Wu remarked that this trend is very troublesome for the government, according to NOW News, hence the recent efforts to keep the practice from persisting, and urging cooperation from civil groups in Taiwan and abroad.

On Dec. 5, MOFA introduced a unified Taiwan logo for the social media accounts of overseas representative offices and embassies to increase the country’s visibility.

Then on Dec. 10, the ministry released its statement saying that any title which denotes Taiwan as a province of China, or more specifically a territory of the “People’s Republic of China” is unacceptable. The announcement emphasizes that translating “Chinese Taipei” (中華台北) into “Taipei, China” (中國台北) represents a propagandistic distortion of the term in Mandarin.

Use of term will only contribute to the further international suppression of the country, warned the MOFA statement.

The new guidelines laid out by MOFA follow the failure of a referendum calling for the country to abandon the “Chinese Taipei” title in international sporting events, ahead of the upcoming 2020 Olympics.

The referendum, held in November, failed to pass, with 54 percent of voters preferring to stick with “Chinese Taipei,” and 45 percent voting to scrap the title in favor of “Taiwan.”

It is notable that of all the referendums held, the vote on the country’s title in international sporting events resulted in the smallest percentage difference of the 10 referendums, most of which resulted in a 70/30 split on average, indicating that a high degree of support for scrapping “Chinese Taipei” remains among the public.

The distinction between the Mandarin terms translated as “Chinese Taipei” (中華台北) and “Taipei, China” (中國台北) lies in the difference between the words zhonghua 中華 and zhongguo 中國, with the former indicating a cultural heritage, as opposed to the latter which indicates a political state.