Taiwan is not a province of China, but in many international occasions Taiwanese need to fight for that simple fact to be recognized, a Kaohsiung doctor said as he related his own experience of trying to have Taiwan’s proper name adopted by international organ transplant societies.
Chen Chao-long (陳肇隆), superintendent of Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Kaohsiung, is a world famous liver transplant surgeon. He said that in 2001, he began taking note of a common practice adopted by US and European medical associations — that of listing Taiwan as a “Province of China.”
Before the May 2001 annual convention for the American Society of Transplantation and the American Society of Transplant Surgeons in Chicago, Chen said he submitted two abstracts online to the organizers.
On the organizer’s Web page, when he tried to click on “Taiwan,” what appeared was “Taiwan, Province of China.” The title could not be changed, as it was designed to appear that way automatically, he said.
In April 2001, Chen sent an e-mail to the then-president of the American Society of Transplantation, Nancy Ascher, saying that he and other members of his research team would not accept their country being called a province of China.
At the same time, he told his overseas friends in the medical profession that the convention organizers had not been careful or sensitive enough about listing his country’s name, he said.
He suggested that the organizers simply change his team’s nationality to “Taiwan” and delete the “Province of China” entry in the abstract and program booklets.
Chen said his efforts were rewarded when Ascher replied to him with an apology, saying she had taken the issue seriously and had never thought of it as a problem.
Ascher promised to make changes to the booklets, but said changing Taiwan’s title in the abstract could be a problem because it was several hundred pages long and was therefore too big to reprint, Chen said.
On May 10, 2001, when Chen and his team members arrived in Chicago for the convention, the name Taiwan, instead of “Taiwan, Province of China,” appeared not only in the convention’s program, but also in the abstract.
What delighted him even more was that from then on, all Taiwanese delegations were able to use the title of Taiwan at all sorts of international conferences on transplantation, he said.
According to Chen, the lesson is that “you’ve got to be a respected partner in your profession and you have to fight for your legitimate rights in a reasonable way.”
“As long as both sides want to maintain exchanges in the spirit of mutual respect, the international organizations most likely will support us,” he said.
Chen is a pioneer surgeon who in 1984 performed the first successful liver transplant in Asia.
In 1994, he performed the nation’s first live donor liver transplantation. He carried out the first split-liver transplantation in Asia in 1997. He started the living adult donor liver transplantation program in Taiwan in 1999 and performed the first dual-graft live donor liver transplantation in Taiwan in 2002.
He became superintendent of the Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in 2003.