U.K. parliamentarians step into debate on Taiwan's name on statue

04/05/2019 01:48 PM
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London, April 4 (CNA) A British parliamentary group on Thursday waded into a debate on the name by which Taiwan is called, saying its designation on a giant globe sculpture on the campus of a London school was not based on fact.

"The World Turned Upside Down" statue at the London School of Economics (LSE) was recently altered to show Taiwan as part of China, which the British lawmakers said was not only erroneous but contrary to government policy in the United Kingdom.

"Depicting Taiwan as part of China is inaccurate and misleading as Taiwan has never been a part of the People's Republic of China," parliamentarians Nigel Evans and Lord Rogan, co-chairs of the British-Taiwanese All-Party Parliamentary Group, wrote in a letter to the LSE.

The LSE's decision, driven by pressure from its Chinese students, is also contrary to the U.K. government's longstanding policy of referring of Taiwan as simply 'Taiwan', said Evans and Rogan, citing a public statement made last July by Mark Field, British minister of state for Asia and the Pacific at the Foreign Commonwealth Office.

"The designation 'Taiwan' is used across all government departments and agencies as shown on the gov.uk/worldwide website and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's territory register," the parliamentarians said in their letter, which was addressed to LSE director Dame Minouche Shafik. "Your decision therefore is neither based on fact nor in line with the UK's policy and practice."

They urged the LSE to reconsider its decision and restore the original designation of Taiwan on the sculpture "in order to maintain accuracy, prevent political interference and safeguard our shared values of freedom of speech and expression."

On March 26, the LSE unveiled the new sculpture by the Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Wallinger outside its Saw Swee Hock Student Centre.

The sculpture depicts a large political globe, four meters in diameter, with nation states and borders outlined, but with "the revolutionary twist of being inverted," according to the LSE website.

When it was unveiled, the sculpture showed Taiwan labeled as "REP. CHINA (Taiwan)" and colored in pink, while China was labeled "CHINA (People's Republic) and colored in yellow.

After Chinese students at LSE lodged a protest over Taiwan designation, however, the school called a meeting Wednesday between them and their Taiwanese counterparts. The Chinese students proposed changing the globe's original design to make Taiwan the same color as China, a suggestion that was accepted by the LSE.

On Thursday, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said it had directed its representative office in the U.K. to ask the LSE to reconsider its decision.

Asked about the issue, the British Office Taipei said the U.K. government's longstanding policy on Taiwan had not changed.

"We refer to Taiwan as Taiwan. This is ultimately a matter for LSE, an independent institution," the office said.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) is an alumna of LSE, which is a popular choice for Taiwanese students seeking further education at a prestigious British school.

(By Tai Ya-chen and Chung Yu-chen)


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