What’s in a name?
Steven Painter’s letter missed the reason why people dislike the name “Xinbei City” — because it will be mistaken as a city in China (Letters, June 29, page 8). Taiwan has already been misnamed as “Chinese Taipei,” “Taiwan, Province of China” and “Taiwan Province.” We don’t need another name to confuse people.
A name like “Xinbei City, Chinese Taipei” is insane, ambiguous and inconvenient.
Furthermore, Taiwanese don’t like to use the letter X in Romanized names because it symbolizes being crossed out or unknown. This rule also applies to the names of cities and should be respected as a minimum courtesy.
If Painter accepts the difference between American English and British English, it is hard to understand why he calls Tongyong Pinyin “nonsense.”
This system was developed for its general applicability to all languages in Taiwan and is slightly different from Hanyu Pinyin, which was developed in China. The government in Taiwan will reportedly change all signs in Tongyong to Hanyu. What a waste of financial and human resources. It is also environmentally unfriendly because it will unnecessarily increase carbon dioxide emissions.
As an exception, “Sinbei” in Tongyong is not an elegant name to use for a city. “New Taipei City” is a neutral name that incorporates the meaning of its original name. If people can distinguish between “New York City” and “New York,” it will be easy to tell “New Taipei City” and “Taipei City” apart. Both cities are close to each other. The name “New Taipei City” is also favored by two major candidates running for mayor.
We have to cherish such a rare consensus.
All issues are political issues
June 29 will, without a doubt, come to be known as Taiwan’s “Black Tuesday.” It is on that mournful and tragic day that Taiwan was bullied into signing the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Chongqing, China.
The ECFA is essentially a “black box” pact signed between two political parties — the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the the CCP — (“Taiwan, China sign trade pact,” June 30, page 1).
A person may duly wonder whether Taiwan would be allowed to refer any disputes or controversial cases to the WTO for arbitration. Please allow me to disabuse anyone of such a naive belief, lest he or she be deceived into thinking that Taiwan will ever be viewed as an equal partner — “During the morning meeting [between the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) prior to the signing], trade officials from both sides agreed that until a cross-strait trade dispute resolution is forged, the two sides would attempt to solve any disputes through negotiation and would not refer controversial cases to the WTO.”
Later, at a separate press conference, ARATS Vice Chairman Zheng Lizhong (鄭立中) reportedly said: “We understand our Taiwanese compatriots’ wish to participate in international events.”
Zheng was cut off by Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Jiang Zengwei (姜增偉), who said: “We can make reasonable arrangements through cross-strait negotiations under the precondition of the ‘1992 consensus.’”
Jiang’s words certainly raised my eyebrows because they directly contradicted the CCP and Beijing’s official position on cross-strait relations. In fact, I am utterly dumbfounded as to why Jiang would use the phrase “1992 consensus.” It boggles the mind.
The whole world is accustomed to hearing all Chinese officials parrot this same refrain. The latest example was at a conference sponsored by Hong Kong’s Chu Hai College of Higher Education and entitled “Cross-Strait and Taiwan-Hong Kong Relations.” During the conference, a senior researcher from the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies said — “There is only one China, and that is the People’s Republic of China.” This same researcher also said that the “Chinese government has never accepted the so-called ‘1992 consensus.’” This was a term first coined by former National Security Council secretary-general Su Chi (蘇起).
At the conference on Tuesday, Zheng is also reported to have said: “The ECFA is an economic issue. No individual or group should manipulate it for political gain.”
Here, Zheng is lying. As George Orwell wrote in 1984: “In our age, there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics.’ All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.”
East Hartford, Connecticut
Since COVID-19 broke out in Taiwan, there has been a fair amount of news regarding discrimination and “witch hunts” against medical personnel, people under self-quarantine and other targets, such as the students of a school where an infection was discovered. Quarantine breakers are almost certainly on the loose and it is only natural for people to be vigilant. One in Chiayi was found by accident at a traffic stop because his helmet was not fastened. However, those who follow the rules by quarantining themselves should be encouraged to keep up the good work in a difficult situation, instead of being
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator-at-large Wu Sz-huai (吳斯懷) has said that there is a huge difference between Chinese military aircraft circling Taiwan along the edges of its airspace and invading Taiwan’s airspace. He also said that whether it is US or Chinese aircraft flying along or encircling Taiwan’s airspace, there is no legal basis to say that such actions imply a clear provocation of Taiwan, and asked the Ministry of National Defense not to mislead the public. People who hear this might think that it is not a very Taiwanese thing to say. US military activity in the vicinity of Taiwan
As the nation welcomes home Taiwanese who had been stranded in China’s Hubei Province — arguably one of the most dangerous places on Earth since the novel coronavirus outbreak began in its capital, Wuhan, late last year — problems surrounding the “quasi-charter flights” that brought them back have been largely overlooked. The media used the term to describe the two flights dispatched by Taiwan’s state-run China Airlines because they do not count as charter flights. Taiwanese wanting to board those flights had to travel — most likely by train — more than 1,000km from Hubei to Shanghai Pudong International Airport
As the COVID-19 pandemic spins out of control, many parts of the world are experiencing shortages of medical masks and other protective equipment. I am studying in Washington state, which at the time of writing is the US state that has suffered the largest number of deaths from the novel coronavirus. The week before last, UW Medicine — an organization that includes the University of Washington School of Medicine and associated medical centers and clinics — sent its volunteers an e-mail asking the public to make masks and donate them to hospitals. Attached to the message was a mask donation