Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City Councilor Chou Wei-you (周威佑) on Monday accused President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration of inaction on the common depiction of Taiwan as part of China’s territory on globes, saying that the depiction risked degrading the nation’s sovereignty and misleading people.
Chou said he noticed the increasingly common error after inspecting globes sold at 11 chain stores around the nation, including hypermarket chains A.mart, RT-Mart, Carrefour Taiwan and Costco, as well as Kingstone and Eslite bookstores.
“As many as eight of the 11 chain stores sell globes bearing the mistake. While some of them correctly label the nation as ‘Taiwan,’ the majority fail to display the name using the font and color used to indicate an independent country. They do not mark ‘Taipei’ as the nation’s capital or show China and Taiwan in different colors,” Chou said.
Chou said nations such as Japan and South Korea were colored differently from other nearby countries, with their national titles displayed in color and boldface and their capitals marked with a symbol.
“Only a South Korean-made globe from Costco and another one from Kingstone Bookstore clearly identify ‘Taipei’ as our capital, while the former labels the nation as ‘Taiwan’ and the latter as ‘Republic of China’ [ROC]” Chou said.
Chou said that if the central government chose to not act while such products were being used as a teaching aids in schools, at least the Taipei City Government should bar them from schools in the city.
Chen Yi-tsung (諶亦聰), head of the primary education division of the city’s Department of Education, said globes were not needed as much anymore because most schools in the city were equipped with interactive whiteboards.
There are no laws governing how globe manufacturers design their products, Chen added.
“Students are taught about cross-strait issues when they are in the upper grades of elementary schools and in junior-high schools. The education department will instruct teachers to bear in mind the nation’s sovereignty and political situations to avoid confusion and misunderstandings,” Chen said.
Chou said what mattered was the government’s attitude in handling the politically sensitive issue.
“The government should demand manufacturers and distributors of globes to only allow products that accurately represent reality, yet it is turning a blind eye and taking a hands-off attitude toward the matter,” Chou said.
Taipei Min-Quan Junior High School principal Chen Chun-mei (陳春梅) said she respected each teacher’s methods, including whether they wanted to use a globe.
“Different people have different political ideologies and values. Teachers should avoid instilling their political beliefs into young students to give them a chance to grow up without bias,” she said.
However, Mu Cha Elementary School principal Yang Ching-cheng (楊進成) said teachers should design their courses in accordance with the school curriculum and should only use teaching aids that reflect reality.
“They [teachers] should have the ability to determine whether the teaching materials they use conform to reality, and to revise the parts that do not before using them in the classroom,” Yang said.
Questions about the markings on globes sold in the country were raised by Taipei businessman Chang Chin-te (張金德) in July, who posted a message on his Facebook page complaining that the table globes for sale at an RT-Mart store in Taipei showed Taiwan as part of the People’s Republic of China.
Chang urged consumers to boycott such globes.
He said students would have questions about national identity when they cannot find either Taiwan or the Republic of China on a global map.
Additional reporting by staff writer