The US-based Foreign Policy magazine recently took issue with some foreign media’s use of the term “renegade province” to refer to Taiwan, saying that neither Taipei nor Beijing employs that phrase.
In an article titled “Stop Calling Taiwan a ‘Renegade Province,’” Foreign Policy Asia editor Isaac Stone Fish on Friday last week said that many stories in Western news outlets had been referring to Taiwan as a renegade province in their reporting of the presidential election on Saturday.
In their recent reports, Reuters and the Wall Street Journal both said that Beijing sees Taiwan as a “renegade province,” Fish said.
Such a term was also employed by the Washington Post, The Associated Press, Time and Bloomberg, among others, he said.
“That is a mistake,” Fish said.
Since the Republic of China government fled China in 1949, the status of Taiwan has been an open question, but, “one thing it most certainly isn’t is a ‘renegade province,’” he said.
He said the term is nonexistent in China, either in an English or a Chinese connotation.
“The Chinese don’t use the term for the simple reason that they don’t consider Taiwan a renegade province,” Fish said.
“They consider Taiwan a province pretending that it’s independent” and most Chinese references to Taiwan are as such, he said, citing Chinese academics.
“We never used the English term ‘renegade province,’” Shen Dingli (沈丁立), vice dean of the Institute of International Affairs at China’s Fudan University, was quoted as saying in the article.
US-based Chinese academic Yu Maochun (余茂春) said in the article that the term was coined by Westerners and that he had never heard any Chinese official designating Taiwan as a renegade province.
Taiwan considers itself “a sovereign state,” Representative to the US Shen Lyu-shun (沈呂巡) was quoted as saying in the article.
The issue gets more complicated in the field of international diplomacy, Fish said. For example, he said, the IMF uses the term “Taiwan, Province of China”; the International Olympic Committee calls it “Chinese Taipei”; Washington calls it Taiwan; and Beijing often calls it “Taiwan province.”
Compared with “Taiwan, province of China, we prefer Chinese Taipei. We don’t like it, but we live with it,” Shen said in the article.
Fish said it was unclear when the phrase “renegade province” in reference to Taiwan first materialized in English. He said that the earliest record he was able to find was in a 1973 article in Encounter, a literary magazine cofounded by US journalist Irving Kristol, and that the usage did not take off until the early 1980s.