TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — China reacted angrily to the listing of Taiwan as a country on a menu of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) website asking people to send their name to Mars, reports said Wednesday (March 31).
Every person who registers for the special action also has to choose his country, with Taiwan featuring on the list between Syria and Tajikistan. As over the past few years, several multinational companies, including airlines and hotels, were forced by Chinese pressure to add “China” or to describe Taiwan as a “province of China,” Chinese netizens were infuriated at the absence of similar terms from the NASA list, the Bloomberg news agency reported.
A Chinese Communist Party news site even described the alleged omission as “unforgivable,” while at its news conference Wednesday, the Beijing government’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) demanded a “correction,” CNA reported.
According to NASA, more than 18 million people across the world had already registered for the action, with the largest group, four million, residing in China. The United States counted 2.6 million participants, while in Taiwan, only 70,000 had registered.
The NASA list included several territories that are not independent countries, such as the British Channel Island of Jersey or the French overseas region of Mayotte. Several other islands across the world administered by countries such as France, Great Britain, Denmark, or the Netherlands also featured on the list.
The presence of NASA’s “Perseverance” rover on Mars has attracted widespread attention in Taiwan, as a key team member behind the mission is Taiwanese-born robotics expert Jeng Yen (嚴正).