University of British Columbia to fix listing for Taiwan

Canadian university pledges to only use 'Taiwan' in future reports

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(UBC annual enrollment report screenshot)

(UBC annual enrollment report screenshot)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — In response to a protest by Taiwan's government, Canada's University of British Columbia (UBC) has said it will use the correct designation for Taiwan in the future.

On Monday (July 6), MOFA criticized UBC for "succumbing to pressure from Beijing" after it was found to have erroneously listed Taiwan as a "Province of China" in its 2019-2020 enrollment report. The ministry then directed the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Vancouver to lodge a formal protest.

The next day, UBC claimed that the designation was not politically motivated but had inadvertently occurred while the university was standardizing its computer terminology and has since been fixed, reported the Chronicle Herald. In a statement, UBC senior director of media relations Kurt Heinrich said that the university “does not take stands on political issues," and he pledged that moving forward, the university will "only refer to ‘Taiwan,’ without any additional descriptors, in future reports.”

Heinrich explained that the error occurred when the university adopted the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) country codes in its databases. He said that because the ISO uses the United Nations designations for countries, Taiwan was automatically listed as a Chinese province.

MOFA spokesperson Joanne Ou (歐江安) said that the ministry is pleased to see UBC "returning to academic neutrality and independence" and affirmed that the university understands the nature of the problem and is willing to correct the error, reported CNA. However, she pointed out that it has yet to actually fix the entry on its report, and MOFA has asked its representative office in Vancouver to express Taiwan's solemn position and monitor the progress on correcting the name.

The university currently has roughly 400 to 500 Taiwanese students on its Vancouver campus, according to Heinrich.

When President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office in 2016, she refused to recognize the alleged "1992 consensus," acknowledging only that the 1992 Taiwan-China talks were a "historical fact." In response, China has been seeking to punish Taiwan by excluding it from international organizations, stealing away diplomatic allies, and intimidating government bodies, corporations, and universities into de-listing Taiwan as a country.