Taipei County's new name triggers dispute

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Fri, Jun 25, 2010 - Page 3

The English translation of the new name of Taipei County after it is upgraded in December has sparked controversy, with some residents protesting against the county government’s decision to adopt Hanyu Pinyin and romanizing it as “Xinbei City” (新北市).

Taipei County’s Department of Civil Affairs Commissioner Yang Yi-te (楊義德) said the county government used “Xinbei City” as the city’s official English name because “New Taipei City” would be too similar to “Taipei City.”


The city’s Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) mayoral candidate Eric Chu (朱立倫), however, suggested the city be named “New Taipei City.”

“I prefer the name ‘New Taipei City’ because it is more reflective of the spirit of a new city after its upgrading and meets public expectations,” he said when approached for comments.

Speaking at a campaign stop in Taipei County, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) also expressed her support for the name “New Taipei City.”

Tsai, who doubles as DPP chairperson, said that an English translation was for foreign visitors to better understand the name of the city, a task that would be better accomplished by calling it “New Taipei City.”

“If I were a foreigner, I wouldn’t understand what Xinbei City meant,” Tsai said.

“But if it was New Taipei City — the meaning would be very clear, a new area currently under development,” she said.


A small group of protesters yesterday challenged the county government’s adoption of Hanyu Pinyin in front of the Taipei County Hall, shouting “we don’t want Xinbei City” in protest against the decision.

“As a resident, I protest against Chou Hsi-wei’s (周錫瑋) decision to change my hometown’s name without seeking the residents’ agreement. We do not want to use Hanyu Pinyin, which China uses,” said Chang Shu-feng (張淑芬), director of Taiwan Pinyin League.

Chang said the county government should either use “Sinbei City” — based on the Tongyong Pinyin system developed by Taiwan — or “New Taipei City” as the city’s English name.

Yang dismissed accusations that the county government chose the Hanyu Pinyin system to pander to China, saying Hanyu Pinyin has been officially adopted by the central government.

Yang said the English name of the upgraded city still requires final approval from the Taipei County Council. The final version will be determined in September.