MOFA welcomes UBC's reported pledge on Taiwan's designation

07/07/2020 03:47 PM
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Taipei, July 7 (CNA) Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) welcomed a University of British Columbia (UBC) commitment to no longer show Taiwan as being a part of China in the school's future enrollment reports.

At a regular press briefing Tuesday, MOFA spokesperson Joanne Ou (歐江安) said the ministry was glad to see the Canadian university "reverting to academic neutrality and independence."

Taiwan will closely follow future developments, Ou said, but indicated it still wanted the school to change Taiwan's designation in the report already issued for the current school year.

The controversy stemmed from UBC's designation of Taiwan as "Taiwan (Province of China)" in its 2019-2020 enrollment report, which Taipei objected to and asked the school to correct.

According to foreign media reports, UBC senior director of media relations Kurt Heinrich said in a statement that "UBC will only refer to 'Taiwan,' without any additional descriptors, in future reports."

Screenshot from bog.ubc.ca
Screenshot from bog.ubc.ca

Heinrich was cited as saying the problem was due to the school's adoption of International Organization for Standardization (ISO) country codes in its databases. The ISO uses United Nations sources to define country names, which refer to Taiwan as a province of China.

"It is important to be clear that the utilization of ISO data standards is not indicative of the university taking a position regarding Taiwan," Heinrich said, according to the reports.

This was not the first time a foreign educational institution has been criticized for referring to Taiwan as part of China, which sees self-governed Taiwan as part of its territory.

In March, a similar controversy happened involving Johns Hopkins University in the United States, which labeled Taiwan as "Taipei and environs" and put it under China on its COVID-19 interactive map.

The label was later revised to "Taiwan" after the MOFA lodged a protest.

(By Chen Yun-yu and Emerson Lim)

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