Taiwan has won a battle over its name in the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy in a rare victory to defend its official title.
Instead of being identified as part of China, the six Taiwanese municipalities that joined the international group may keep their Chinese-Taipei title, preventing them from being mistaken for cities under mainland China’s jurisdiction.
The controversy stemmed from long-time pressure from Beijing which has demanded that international groups and companies refer to Taiwan as being part of China, according to the island’s foreign ministry.
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“We are happy to learn that they have changed our name back to the original title,” Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said before a legislature meeting on Monday.
He said his office had been in contact with the Global Covenant of Mayors (GCoM) over the name change issue and after learning of the latest decision by the international group, it also informed the six Taiwanese cities of the decision.
“We are also very happy that all of the six municipal governments, regardless of their political party affiliations, have jointly worked together to strive for the keeping of our original title,” Wu said.
Last week, the foreign ministry lodged a protest with GCoM over the abrupt national identity change of the six major municipalities in Taiwan.
Taipei, New Taipei, Taoyuan, Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung were recently listed on the GCoM website under the country classification of “China” – even though they are not mainland Chinese cities – instead of the original “Chinese-Taipei” title.
On Sunday, the six cities – including three under the control of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, two under the main opposition party Kuomintang and one under the Taiwan People’s Party – issued a joint statement to the GCoM, requesting that it “immediately fix the website and change the registered names of our cities back to the original registered nationality”.
It said that if GCoM refused to change the title back, the six cities would withdraw from the group to “defend our rights and interests”.
“Taiwan is not part of China … and what they did was an act of belittling us,” the statement said.
The self-ruled island, officially known as the Republic of China, has been battling to keep its national title since the United Nations awarded the China seat to Beijing in 1971. Beijing, which considers Taiwan a wayward province that must be returned to the mainland fold by force if necessary, has applied pressure on various international groups and companies forcing them to change the island’s title to either a province of China or simply China.
Taiwan has compromised to accept the “Chinese-Taipei” title in a certain number of international groups, including the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), both of which it is a member. But over the years, it has been forced to withdraw from a number of smaller global agencies that tried to classify it as part of China or a province of China.
Earlier this month, a Taiwanese bird conservation group was removed from BirdLife International, an international partnership, after BirdLife demanded the Taiwan group change its Chinese-language name and sign documents stating it “would formally commit not to promote or advocate the independence of Taiwan from China or the legitimacy of the Republic of China”.
The group said that although it agreed to discuss changing its Chinese-language title, it could not agree to BirdLife’s other demand.
The group said it was an apolitical organisation and it would be highly inappropriate for it to sign such a document.
BirdLife told the Taiwan group that regardless of the name change it would not permit its logo or staff to be linked to anything associated with the Taiwanese government or in any document or event displaying Taiwan’s flag or emblem.
This article Global climate group lets Taiwan keep Chinese-Taipei name, a win over China’s demands first appeared on South China Morning Post