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Taiwan CECC deputy head chastises reporter for calling China 'Mainland'

Press corps heard snickering after Chen corrects China Times reporter for using term 'Mainland'

Chen Tsung-yen confirming that "Mainland" was in reference to China. (YouTube, CDC screenshot)

Chen Tsung-yen confirming that "Mainland" was in reference to China. (YouTube, CDC screenshot)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Deputy Chief of Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) Chen Tsung-yen (陳宗彥) caused a stir at the end of the center's press conference on Tuesday (Oct. 19) when he snapped at a reporter for referring to China as "the Mainland."

When Chen announced that he would take one last question for a press conference that day, a reporter from China Times said: "Some people have already used the Mainland vaccination certificate to exchange for the yellow card [an internationally accepted vaccine certificate] to serve as proof of vaccination. Will they [Taiwan's authorities] refuse to accept them?"

With a stern expression, Chen first asked the reporter to clarify: "So you say that there are people who have returned from China?" A bit taken aback by the question, the reporter responded by saying "Yes."

Chen then said, "Because you said 'the Mainland,' I really didn't know which country you were referring to."

Several journalists in attendance could then be heard giggling in the background.

The reporter then stammered and said, "OK... People who have returned from China." Chen then nodded his head and repeated "China," and the reporter quickly blurted out "Okay" in English.

A second wave of even louder laughter from the audience then followed. CECC Spokesperson Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) then interjected and said, "The health department will notify these people and ask them to take these cards back," meaning that they are not recognized by local health authorities.

Chen was agitated because a growing number of Taiwanese prefer to use the name China to refer to the country, rather than Mainland, since the latter infers Taiwan is an island that has been incorporated into continental China. Many Taiwanese feel that using the name China better distinguishes and dissociates Taiwan from the communist country.

China Times is part of Want Want China Times Group, which has repeatedly come into conflict with the authorities due to its pro-China stance, having been fined for 21 violations over the past six years that range from spreading disinformation to biased reporting. Chen may have deliberately corrected the wording used by the China Times writer knowing the media outlet's decidedly pro-Beijing leanings.

The awkward exchange quickly triggered a heated discussion among Taiwanese netizens on PTT:

"Go ask the Mainland Affairs Council."

"Chen Tsung-yen was a senior officer in the Marine Corps, and, sure enough, has momentum."

"Mainland refers to the mainland area of China, not a country."

"Someone just said they weren't sure which country the mainland is. Is it Mainland Europe or Mainland Africa? It makes sense. People who heard his words all laughed. Have you heard the gossip about which country the Mainland is?"

"Tell that person to read Article 2, Paragraph 2 of the Act Governing Relations between Peoples of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland." The section reads, "'The Mainland Area' refers to the territory of the Republic of China outside the Taiwan Area."

Updated : 2021-11-28 14:56 GMT+08:00