The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has expressed its concern to the London School of Economics (LSE) after the school decided to change the design of a campus sculpture to depict Taiwan as part of China.
The ministry has asked its representative office in the UK to demand that the school reconsider the decision, which belittles Taiwan’s sovereign status, spokesman Andrew Lee (李憲章) said.
Lee’s comments came in response to a decision by the LSE to change the painting of a sculpture to show that Taiwan is part of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
On Tuesday last week, the LSE unveiled the new sculpture by the Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Wallinger outside its Saw Swee Hock Student Centre.
The World Turned Upside Down is a large political globe, 4m in diameter, with nation states and borders outlined, but with “the revolutionary twist of being inverted,” according to the LSE Web site.
Most of the landmasses now lie in the “bottom” hemisphere, with nations and cities labeled for this new orientation, it says.
However, after the sculpture’s unveiling, Chinese students at LSE noticed that Taiwan was in a different color to China and they protested.
“We are deeply disappointed by this arrangement, and we firmly hold the position that Taiwan is a part of China and the PRC should be the only legal representative of China,” a statement released by Chinese LSE students said.
They called on the school to take action “to prevent any future confusion resulting from the sculpture.”
Taiwanese students at LSE issued their own statement, calling on the school to keep the original design with the Republic of China (ROC) as a separate sovereign state.
“As a sovereign state, the ROC [Taiwan] has its own democratic political institution, and respects the separation of powers and rule of law. We have our own ministries of diplomacy, national defense and interior affairs, with which PRC has no interference,” a letter from the Taiwanese students to the school said.
“Altering the content of the original sculpture not only disrespects the artist, but also denies the fact that the ROC is a sovereign state and further influences the understanding of Taiwan in the LSE community,” it added.
Following a meeting on Wednesday between Taiwanese students and their Chinese counterparts organized by the school, the LSE decided to accept the latter’s proposal to change the globe’s original design by making Taiwan the same color as the PRC.
The school pointed out that all maps released by the UN show Taiwan as a part of the PRC, making it difficult for the Taiwanese students to convince the school to keep the original design, Taiwanese LSE student Huang Li-an (黃立安) said.
The LSE put up a sign beside the sculpture saying that it understood and respected “that strong feelings exist around statehood and identity,” but called on students to engage in respectful exchanges on such issues.
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