TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Following controversy over Taiwanese artist Pei-hsin Cho’s (卓霈欣) country of origin listing removal at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair due to pressure from China, Italian parliamentarian Marco Di Maio issued a statement calling the move a mistake and urging the restoration of Taiwan’s name.
“In a place that makes freedom and the recognition of belonging as its distinctive feature, I find it serious that the Bologna Children’s Book Fair decided to delete the name of Taiwan by putting a white adhesive strip over it, under the name of the artist, Pei-hsin Cho,” he said through a statement released through his party, Italia Viva on Wednesday (March 23).
He said that considering the historic moment the world is going through as well as Taiwan’s full membership of the pro-Ukraine coalition and China’s ambiguity on its relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, “it is not a good sign that a fair dedicated to the youngest endorses obscurantism imposed by the Bejing regime at an event that should have nothing to do with China’s political interests, even.”
Italian parliamentarian Marco Di Maio. (Facebook, Taiwan in Italia photo)
Di Maio, Vice President of the Italy-Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Group, added, “Moreover, Taiwan is a democratic, liberal, modern, rich, independent republic that recognizes civil and social rights to a level that, in a reversed situation, would never come to the decision to obscure the geographical origin of an artist.”
“I hope that those responsible for complying with the undue Chinese pressure on a literary fair dedicated to the youngest will change their mind," Di Maio concluded, urging the fair’s organizer to restore the state of things, recognize the artist's provenance, and prevent incidents that should have no place at such an event, especially at such a “historical and dramatic” time.
The Taiwanese representative office in Italy responded to Di Maio’s statement by thanking him on Facebook. “No matter how mad China gets, we will loudly and proudly say, ‘I am Taiwanese!’” the post read.
The office wrote that after Taiwan’s name was removed, it had immediately contacted the Italian government and the event organizer to protest the decision and demand rectification. “The Republic of China, Taiwan is a sovereign country; neither China nor Taiwan is subordinate to the other, and China has not ruled over Taiwan for even a day. Of course it has no right to claim to represent Taiwan at international settings or downgrade the country name our citizens use to participate in events!”