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UN forces Colorado high school to refer to Taiwan as Chinese province

Obscure article on private high school website scrutinized by UN committee

2020 UN General Assembly to be held in September. (UN photo)

2020 UN General Assembly to be held in September. (UN photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A small, private high school in Colorado earlier this year was ordered to refer to Taiwan as a province of China before it could take part in a U.N. commission, demonstrating the lengths to which Chinese bureaucrats will go to stifle Taiwan's status in international organizations.

In order to illustrate the extreme measures China will go to in order to diminish Taiwan's role on the world stage, the Wall Street Journal on Friday (Sept. 10) cited the case of catholic high school Regis Jesuit, which has a student body of around 1,600 and is located in Aurora, Colorado. As part of an attempt to expand student exposure to foreign affairs in the spring of this year, the school applied for credentials to take part in the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

However, an email sent by the U.N. informed the school that it had used the "incorrect terminology for Taiwan" on its website. The offending reference was found in a quote of a press release beneath a minuscule 44-word article from 2020 congratulating a student for being named the Girl Up Teen Advisor for 2021.

Within the quoted segment from the press release, the young leaders were said to represent 11 U.S. states and eight countries, including "Australia, Brazil, Colombia, India, Mexico, Taiwan, Zambia, the United States – and the British Virgin Islands." The U.N. committee recommended that the entry for Taiwan be changed to "Taiwan, Province of China."

Although she found the request to be "odd," the Spanish teacher tasked with applying for the credentials, Christina Vela, told the newspaper that she dutifully made the change. The application was approved in the first week of September.

During a meeting of the committee in May, China specifically demanded that the private school change its reference to Taiwan, according to the report. Vela said that she soon received the email from the committee requesting the name change to the dated article.

The author of the piece stated that during the summer session of the committee, China held up applications from at least six other groups after "improper Taiwan terminology" had been discovered. Examples of organizations that were pressured to change their references to Taiwan included the World Bicycle Industry Association, the Association for 3 Hedgehogs, and For All Moonkind.

The Taiwanese government responds to such incidents by attempting to convince organizations to restore the name. For example, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in May of last year convinced 22 airlines to correct their references to Taiwan.

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

Updated : 2021-09-18 10:56 GMT+08:00