Cross-strait politics entered the world of science recently after a Chinese neurobiologist insisted that Taiwanese co-authors identify their university as being located in “Taiwan, China.”
News of the spat were first reported by ScienceInsider, a blog of the Science journal, on Friday, which said that cross-strait cooperation on scientific research had accelerated in the past decade. Usually, collaborators from both sides stayed clear of politics by avoiding references to “Republic of China” and “People’s Republic of China” and simply using “Taiwan” and China” respectively, it said.
However, the growing sense of nationalism in China appears to have entered the lab, with neurobiologist Rao Yi (饒毅) of Peking University insisting that a Taiwanese team led by neurobiologist Chiang Ann-shyn (江安世) of National Tsing Hua University (NTHU) in Hsinchu, which collaborated with Rao’s group on research, identify the university as being located in “Taiwan, China.”
Following back-and-forth visits and “exchanges of ideas,” one of Chiang’s students assisted Rao’s research team with scientific experiments seeking to understand the role of octopamine, a biomolecule, in the brain of Drosophila, a genus of small flies commonly known as “fruit flies.”
Rao drafted a paper on the findings and included Chiang and the student as co-authors. However, references to NTHU located it in “Taiwan, China.”
“It was unexpected,” Chiang is quoted as saying in the story, adding that projects funded by the National Science Council give scientists the right to state their address as “Taiwan” or “Taiwan, Republic of China.”
Rao, ScienceInsider said, also requested that the Taiwanese scientific community endorse such designation for universities in Taiwan.
In a letter to National Science Council Minister Lee Lou-chuang (李羅權) last week, in which the editor-in-chief of Science magazine was copied, Rao said a reasonable compromise was for the two sides to drop the “PR” and the “RO,” while retaining the word “China.” He said his group was willing to drop the PRC designation from its address and simply use “Beijing, China,” adding that Taiwan should reciprocate.
In a follow-up e-mail to ScienceInsider, Rao explained the rationale behind his decision.
“On the mainland [sic] side, the major concern is about Taiwan independence. When a paper lists ‘Taipei, Taiwan’ together with ‘Beijing, China,’ it equates Taiwan with China, not as a part of it,” he wrote.
If the council does not change the rule, it would be “extremely difficult for mainland Chinese scientists to co-author papers explicitly or implicitly endorsing a Taiwan that is not a part of China,” he said.
Rao’s contention goes in the face of nearly 15 years of scientific collaboration across the Taiwan Strait, which started with joint efforts between Academia Sinica’s Institute of Physics and the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of High Energy Physics.
“We have been using the ‘Taipei, Taiwan’ and ‘Beijing, China’ affiliation format in our publications since the birth of the [collaboration] in 1997,” says Henry Wong, who handles collaboration on Taiwan’s side, was quoted as saying.
According to National Science Council Deputy Minister Chen Cheng-hong (陳正宏), the number of papers with co-authors from Taiwan and China grew from 1,035 in 2009 to 1,207 last year.
For his part, Chiang took the incident in stride.
“Personally, I believe that China and Taiwan are heading [in] a friendly direction. With more patience, I hope we can all contribute to promoting scientific collaboration between the two sides,” he said.
ADEQUATE COVERAGE: New Taipei City, which has more than 9,500 people under home quarantine, said it would add another 450 rooms at its disease prevention hotels The Taipei City Government has added a fourth designated disease prevention hotel, allowing people under 14-day home quarantine to isolate themselves from NT$5,000 per day, it said yesterday. The Taipei Department of Information and Tourism launched the first disease prevention hotel on Feb. 21 to accommodate travelers without a place to stay during mandatory home isolation or quarantine, and for people who want to separate themselves from their family members or roommates during quarantine. The department said that as of yesterday, more than 120 travelers have stayed at one of the city’s three disease prevention hotels, and their 178 rooms are nearly
MISINFORMATION: The 100,000 masks given to ally Paraguay were bought in other Latin American nations, not made in Taiwan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Taiwan has not yet reached a point where it can export masks to diplomatic allies amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday, dismissing as misinformation online reports that it gave away masks to curry favor with a diplomatic ally. “Taiwan provides med-ical aid to diplomatic allies based upon specific circumstances,” Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said, adding that the supplements donated by Taiwan were all purchased locally in allied countries, in accordance with their needs. “The time is not yet ripe” for Taiwan to export medical supplies, such as surgical masks, to diplomatic allies, until
An improvised protective device for use when intubating patients designed by Taiwanese doctor Lai Hsien-yung (賴賢勇) is being adopted in the Philippines to help doctors there stay safe amid the worsening COVID-19 pandemic. “We made this acrylic aerosol box for my sister Dra. Frances Legaspi for Antipolo Doctors Hospital. Credits to Dr Lai Hsien-yung for the concept and design,” Anton Legaspi, whose family owns a business that makes customized designs, said on Facebook on Monday. The hospital is in Antipolo, about 25km east of Manila. Legaspi’s post was accompanied by several photographs of the box and a short demonstration video
All state-run columbariums must strictly regulate how many visitors they host during Tomb Sweeping Day on Saturday next week to curb the spread of COVID-19, New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) said yesterday. Hou asked people to use online worshipping services instead. Electronic “tomb sweeping” systems, which display a virtual altar for people to make offerings and say prayers, can reduce crowd sizes at columbariums, Hou said during a site visit to Shulin Life Memorial Hall (樹林生命紀念館), a columbarium in the city’s Shulin Disrict (樹林). Measures for admission control would be strictly implemented in state-run columbariums, Hou said, pointing to the Shulin