Liang said the delegation in Doha did not know about Chang’s registered nationality until it was informed by other local NGO participants after the voting was over.
“He [Chang] experienced interference from mainland [China] when he participated in the UNFCCC in 2009. By declaring his nationality as ‘Taiwan, (Province of China)’ this time, he was aiming to win support from mainland representatives,” Liang said.
UNFCCC rules stipulate that there were two constituencies voting for focal points, which each commanded 50 percent of the vote.
The first constituency consists of organizations active in YOUNGO and the UNFCCC, while the second consists of individuals committed to climate change and interested in the UNFCCC process.
Lawmakers across party lines have expressed their disapproval of Chang’s choice.
Since 1995, Taiwan has participated in COP meetings of the UNFCCC as an observer through the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), which in official UNFCCC documents is identified as an NGO located in “Hsinchu, China.”
While the vote was ongoing, the issue of Chang’s nationality had already been debated among Taiwanese activists who were also participating in COP18.
The TWYCC posted a message on its Facebook page on Dec. 3 to solicit votes for Chang.
In response, Facebook user Wayne Chiu said he was not sure if he should vote for Chang or not “because his nationality “is listed as ‘Taiwan (Province of China).’”
Liao Ting-yi (廖婷儀), who administers the Facebook page, responded: “We didn’t want ‘Province of China’ either. However, we would not have had a chance to be in the election if we had not accepted this.”
Mainland Affairs Council Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) expressed regret over the incident and said the council would continue to clarify the nation’s efforts to expand its international presence with Beijing.
“We understand young people’s passion for international activities, but we regret the incident,” he said during a question-and-answer session at the legislature.
Wang said it was the norm for the nation to participate in international activities under the title “Taiwan,” “Republic of China” or “Chinese Taipei.”
“Participating under the titles of ‘Province of China’ is unacceptable,” he said.
The incident has sparked concern among lawmakers across party lines about China’s suppression of Taiwan’s international participation.
Wang promised that the council would express these concerns to China, urging it to value Taiwan’s efforts to increase the nation’s international participation.
At a press conference in Taipei yesterday, Chang said he had insisted on participating as a “youth from Taiwan” and wrote only his name and “Taiwan” on the registration form.
“I wrote my name and ‘Taiwan’ on the form,” Chang said. “The next day [after registration], I delivered a speech to introduce myself where I introduced myself as a young man from Taiwan.”
However, when asked if the “Taiwan, (Province of China)” was added afterward, Chang said he did not know.
When asked to confirm if he wrote “Taiwan” on the form, Chang said he could not explain in too much detail, but insisted that he was there as a young Taiwanese.
Chang would not comment directly on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ remarks that he had accepted running as representative from “Taiwan, (Province of China)” and said he saw himself as taking part as a “young man from Taiwan.”