Mon, Sep 25, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Letters: `ROC' sows confusion

Is renaming an airport embracing reality or hiding from the past?

I still remember my first visit to Taiwan in 1996: confusion. I disembarked from the American Airlines plane that I had taken from the US and walked through a long corridor. I was confronted by a security check point with a large sign overhead that read "Republic of China, ROC."

I was confused. Had I ended up in China somehow?

Does that sound ignorant or naive?

In fact, at no time did I see a "Welcome to Taiwan" sign. Not at the airport, nowhere. Of course I am familiar enough with "ROC" to recognize that it's the politically friendly name maintained to keep Communist China at bay and to make post-1949 immigrants feel some connection to the mainland. That is not my point.

My airline ticket showed my destination as "Taiwan." My travel guide-books talked about Taiwan. The travel programs that I watched on TV spoke of Taiwan. My travel agent understood Taiwan as my destination. My business associates in the US, Japan and South Korea know it as Taiwan. Europeans know it as Taiwan. Everyone knows except the Taiwanese, apparently.

Of course I know of the long-running debate: "Are we an independent country or are we part of China." That issue has nothing to do with what the rest of the world recognizes you as: Taiwan. Embrace the name that you are recognized by. Only in the political confines of Taiwan-China politics is Taiwan readily recognized as the ROC.

Ask any American or European if they know where Taiwan and the ROC are located on the globe. You'll find they consistently know where Taiwan is but frequently confuse the ROC with China or do not know what the ROC is.

This isn't the result of a poor education, in marketing it's called "branding." You're most readily known as Taiwan, embrace it and love it. Leave politics out of your name. Products made the last 40 years and sold the world over have "marketed" you as Taiwan, "Made in Taiwan."

No amount of public relations or even the saviest marketing skills will take that mind-share away. Embrace your land and your "brand."

Troy Henley

Columbus, Ohio

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