TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Taiwanese students today plan to submit a petition signed by over 10,000 people calling on the London School of Economics (LSE) to reverse its decision to change the color of Taiwan on a sculpture to match that of China.
After news broke last week that LSE had kowtowed to Chinese students' demands to change the color of Taiwan to match that of China on a large sculpture placed at its campus, London-based NGO Formosa Salon launched an online petition criticizing the decision and called on the school to allow the color to stay as is.
To date, the petition has garnered 10,400 signatures, including about 1,550 Taiwanese who work, study, or live in the UK. In the petition, the organization explains to LSE the fact that Taiwan and China are two separate, distinct countries:
"The decision of LSE has ignored the fundamental fact that Taiwan and China are two distinct countries, with separate executive, legislative, judicial, economic, social and cultural systems."
The main demand of the petition is that the LSE rescind its decision and allow the artwork to retain its original colors:
"Last but not least, we must, again, ask the LSE to withdraw its decision and let the artwork to remain its original appearance. We now also call upon every country, organization and individual, including the LSE, who cares about freedom, democracy and human rights to stand with those who are threatened by China’s oppression and aggression, such as Taiwan."
Taiwanese LSE student representatives plan to present the letter and the 10,000 signatures to LSE officials this afternoon, reported CNA.
Tweet by Formosa Salon calling on the public to sign the petition:
We ask @LSEnews to withdraw its decision and let the sculpture #TheWorldTurnedUpsideDown to remain its original appearance - #Taiwan is a country, not part of China. Sign the petition NOW: https://t.co/p5InKDX5c0@guardian @BBC_CurrAff @BBCNews @UN @CulturalTaiwan @MOFA_Taiwan— Formosa Salon 倫敦講臺 (@FormosaSalon_tw) 2019年4月4日
Sculpture in question at LSE campus. (CNA image)
On March 26, LSE unveiled a large outdoor sculpture of a political globe by Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Wallinger titled "The World Turned Upside Down." The concept of the massive sculpture, which is 4 meters in diameter, is to invert the map of the world to give a perspective of the earth from the southern hemisphere.
Chinese students on the campus of LSE soon noticed that Taiwan was labeled "REP. CHINA (Taiwan)" and was colored in pink, while China was labeled "CHINA (People's Republic) and was colored yellow. In addition, the Chinese students noticed that Lhasa, Tibet was colored red, apparently to indicate that it is the capital city of a country, and there differences along the border with India that they did not agree with.
Chinese students then lodged a protest with LSE for the use of separate colors for Taiwan and China, as well as the highlighting of Lhasa and demarcation of the border with India. The school then held a meeting over the matter on April 4 and decided to change the color of Taiwan to yellow, to match that of China, reported CNA.
Closeup view of Taiwan on the map. (CNA image)
When Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs was informed of LSE's resolution, it immediately sent a letter of protest via its representative office in the UK.
To add insult to injury, LSE then posted a hypocritical notice next to the sculpture stating that it was committed to creating an "inclusive" environment "for all" while ensuring that members of the community are treated with "equal dignity and respect at all times," with the apparent exception of Taiwanese students and the nation of Taiwan.
On the page introducing the artwork, LSE boasts that Wallinger's piece "reflects the spirit of progressive enquiry that has characterized the School since its inception."
When Tsai Ing Wen (蔡英文) was elected President of Taiwan in 2016, LSE was quick to mention Tsai (PhD in Law 1984) as the 37th LSE alumni to serve as "either President or Prime Minister of a nation."
According to a statement from the school, “no final decision” has yet been made regarding possible amendments.
“The artwork currently does not reflect our understanding of the UN delineations that it was due to represent. We are consulting our community and considering amendments to the work. No final decisions have been reached.”