《TAIPEI TIMES》 Ministry lauds Canada’s UBC for ‘Taiwan’ reference
Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Joanne Ou hosts a regular news conference in Taipei yesterday. Photo: Lu Yi-hsuan, Taipei Times
By Lin Chia-nan / Staff reporter, with Reuters
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday commended the University of British Columbia （UBC） for “resuming its academic autonomy,” after the school said it would refer to the nation as “Taiwan,” instead of as “Taiwan （Province of China）” as it had done in an annual report.
In its Enrolment Annual Report 2019-2020 published earlier this year, the Canadian university referred to the nation as “Taiwan （Province of China）” in a table breaking down international students’ countries of citizenship.
In the report’s 2018-2019 edition, the school had referred to the nation as “Taiwan” without any parenthesized note.
After the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office （TECO） in Vancouver lodged a protest against the error in the latest report, the university said the reference would be corrected.
The school said the mistake was inadvertently caused by a move to a standardized computer terminology and that it has implemented a fix, according to a Chronicle Herald report yesterday.
UBC is non-partisan and “does not take stands on political issues,” media relations senior director Kurt Heinrich was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
“Moving forward, UBC will only refer to Taiwan without any additional descriptors in future reports,” Heinrich said.
He said the university had adopted International Organization for Standardization （ISO） data standards for country codes, which “use United Nations sources to define the names of countries.”
The UN considers Taiwan a Chinese province. Canada has no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan.
“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.
The ministry is glad to see the university resume its academic neutrality and autonomy, ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou （歐江安） told a news briefing in Taipei.
The ministry lauded the university for understanding the essence of the problem and its willingness to correct the inappropriate appellation, she added.
However, the error remains in the school’s published report, while the ministry has instructed the TECO in Vancouver to continue to express the nation’s stance and monitor developments, Ou said.
Chinese students at the university outnumber students of other nationalities and their numbers have been increasing over the past few years, followed by students from India and the US, the 2019-2020 report showed.
Beijing has ramped up a campaign to have foreign firms and organizations identify Taiwan as part of China, and often to directly name it as a Chinese province.
Taiwan strongly objects to this, saying that it has never been part of the People’s Republic of China and that Beijing has no authority over the nation.
In March, Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University backed down on how it refers to Taiwan on a map detailing the spread of COVID-19 after Taiwan protested its inclusion of the nation as part of China.