Sat, Jun 09, 2018 - Page 1 News List

University ranking latest victim of Chinese pressure

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

A People’s Republic of China flag is displayed next to the listing for National Taiwan University on the Web site for Quacquarelli Symonds’ World University Rankings yesterday.

Photo: Screengrab from Quacquarelli Symonds’ Web site

London-based Quacquarelli Symonds appears to have become the latest organization to succumb to Chinese pressure, as the education network has replaced the Republic of China (ROC) flag originally displayed next to Taiwanese universities that made it onto its World University Rankings with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) flag.

When the latest version of Quacquarelli Symonds’ annual ranking was published online on Wednesday, an image of the ROC flag was placed next to the 17 Taiwanese universities in the list of the world’s top 1,000 universities, including National Taiwan University, which ranked 72nd, up four spots from last year.

However, it was discovered yesterday that the ROC flags had been replaced with PRC flags, although the description still shows “Taiwan” when the cursor is placed over the icon.

As universities in Hong Kong and Macau, two special administrative regions of China, remain represented by their regional flags on the Web site, the flag change for Taiwanese schools has sparked much discussion, as well as anger.

Some members of the Facebook group “Taiwanese in Europe” (台灣人在歐洲) — which has seen an increasing number of complaints from Taiwanese expatriates who have suffered unfair treatment overseas amid growing pressure from Beijing on foreign governments and companies to toe its “one China” line — have threatened to bombard the British education company with letters of protest.

The government has also reacted strongly to the flag change.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has instructed the Taipei Representative Office in the UK to demand that Quacquarelli Symonds make immediate corrections, ministry spokesman Andrew Lee (李憲章) said.

“The international community must not overlook or connive with Beijing barbarously exporting its political censorship to international corporations and educational institutions,” Lee said. “Otherwise, universal values like democracy, freedom and human rights could face serious encroachment.”

Lee called on the governments, corporations and citizens of democratic countries to adopt a united front against China’s browbeating.

The Ministry of Education has also lodged a protest with Quacquarelli Symonds, saying in a news release that the Taiwanese universities included in the latest World University Rankings would follow suit.

The British Office Taipei, which represents the UK’s interests in Taiwan in the absence of formal diplomatic ties, said that Quacquarelli Symonds is a private company and that the British government stands ready to offer advice to companies operating internationally.

Quacquarelli Symonds had not responded to queries as of press time last night, although later yesterday all countries’ national flags were removed from the rankings Web site and replaced by the countries’ names. The site listed Taiwanese schools as being in “Taiwan.”

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