NATPA protests LSE
Dear Dame Minouche Shafik, director of the London School of Economics and Political Science:
On behalf of the North America Taiwanese Professors’ Association (NATPA), we, the directors of its board, are writing to express our outrage and disapproval regarding the London School of Economics and Political Science’s (LSE) willingness to acquiesce to the unjustifiable demand to visually mark Taiwan as a part of China on Mark Wallinger’s sculpture The World Turned Upside Down. Not only does this decision violate the principle of artistic autonomy, the change is factually incorrect.
In 1895, Taiwan became a colony of Japan. In the 1952 Treaty of San Francisco, signed between Japan and the Allied powers, Japan renounced its rights to Taiwan, but Taiwan was not “ceded” to any power.
In the treaty, Taiwan’s sovereignty status was left undetermined. Taiwan is not — and has never been — a part of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Taiwan is an independent democracy, with its own democratically elected president, government, military, monetary system and land. It is recognized as a sovereign country by 17 countries.
According to the US Department of State, the US has “not made any determination as to Taiwan’s political status.”
Furthermore, the US’ Taiwan Relations Act accords Taiwan the same treatment as “foreign countries, nations, states, governments, or similar entities.”
The decision to bow to pressure from the PRC government sets a dangerous precedent. Beijing has been asserting its claim on Taiwan through seemingly “minor” gestures of pressuring corporations and organizations to list Taiwan as a province of China.
However, taken together, these claims are an attempt to impose Beijing’s policy position on independent organizations around the world.
If the LSE allows this change, it legitimizes a policy position of the PRC that is not shared by the people of democratic Taiwan.
To play into the demands of an authoritarian government means perpetuating a fictional narrative of world history — a narrative not supported by any account or documentation of history.
It also represents an alarming willingness to forgo facts in favor of appeasing the loudest, most forceful voice. One would expect much more from one of the premiere academic institutions in the world.
Dame Minouche Shafik, you yourself called the sculpture a “bold work” — so why not also be bold in handling the ensuing controversy? We hope that you and the London School of Economics will choose the more ethical and bolder stance — to stand with democracy and reality.
We urge you to maintain the original designation of Taiwan on the sculpture.
Board of directors, North America Taiwanese Professors’ Association (natpa.org).
Signed by board members Doris Lu-Anderson, Hui-ling Chen, Po-Chun Chen, Jimmy Ching-Ming Chen, John Hsu, Shawna Yang Ryan and Bill Wu; and president Jeff Tsay and vice president Yao-Yuan Yeh.
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