A British parliamentary group on Thursday waded into a debate on Taiwan’s status, saying that its designation on a giant globe sculpture on the campus of a London university was not based on fact.
The World Turned Upside Down sculpture at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) was altered to show Taiwan as part of China, which the lawmakers said was not only erroneous, but contrary to government policy in the UK.
“Depicting Taiwan as part of China is inaccurate and misleading, as Taiwan has never been a part of the People’s Republic of China,” lawmakers Nigel Evans and Lord Rogan, cochairs of the British-Taiwanese All-Party Parliamentary Group, wrote in a letter to the university.
Screen grab from the Internet
The university’s decision, driven by pressure from its Chinese students, is also contrary to the British government’s long-standing policy of referring to Taiwan as “Taiwan,” they said, citing a public statement made in July last year by British Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific Mark Field.
“The designation ‘Taiwan’ is used across all government departments and agencies as shown on the gov.uk/worldwide Web site and the [British] Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s territory register,” said the letter, which was addressed to LSE director Nemat Shafik. “Your decision therefore is neither based on fact nor in line with the UK’s policy and practice.”
They urged the university to reconsider its decision and restore the original designation of Taiwan on the sculpture “in order to maintain accuracy, prevent political interference and safeguard our shared values of freedom of speech and expression.”
On Tuesday last week, the university unveiled the new sculpture by Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Wallinger outside its Saw Swee Hock Student Centre.
The sculpture depicts a political globe, 4m in diameter, with nations and borders outlined, but with “the revolutionary twist of being inverted,” the university’s Web site said.
When it was unveiled, the sculpture had Taiwan labeled as “REP. CHINA (Taiwan)” and colored pink, while China was labeled “CHINA (People’s Republic) and colored yellow.
However, after Chinese students at the university lodged a protest over Taiwan’s designation, the school on Wednesday called a meeting between them and their Taiwanese counterparts.
The Chinese students proposed changing the globe’s original design to make Taiwan the same color as China, a suggestion that was accepted by the university.
On Thursday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it had directed its representative office in the UK to ask the university to reconsider its decision.
Asked about the issue, the British Office Taipei said that the British government’s long-standing policy on Taiwan had not changed.
“We refer to Taiwan as Taiwan. This is ultimately a matter for LSE, an independent institution,” the office said.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) is an alumna of the university, which is a popular choice for Taiwanese students seeking further education at a prestigious British school.
Tsai yesterday said that she was seeking clarification about the incident.
“Whether the London School of Economics and Political Science is my alma mater or not, it is an undeniable fact that we are not disappearing from the world,” Tsai said. “We are a sovereign and independent nation.”
Additional reporting by Chan Shih-hung
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