When Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) started the season on April 12, it was the first baseball league to do so this year, attracting worldwide attention. On the first day of the season, major media outlets worldwide swarmed to the ballpark to cover both Taiwan’s successful disease prevention performance and the game.
Not long after the season started, several foreign media outlets and social media users, misled by the league’s name, thought that the CPBL was China’s professional baseball league, eliciting calls to rectify the league’s name.
The media reported that American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Brent Christensen suggested to Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) that “Taiwan” should be added to the league’s name in international promotional materials when he visited the Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium on May 1 to learn about the league’s disease prevention work.
Asked about the issue, Cheng said that Christensen only asked him whether the league’s name easily confuses people, and, after having explained the historical background, neither the AIT director nor Cheng had talked about replacing “Chinese” with “Taiwan.”
The question of name rectification has continually appeared in news coverage over the past few years.
Politicians have heatedly debated how to highlight “Taiwan” on the “Republic of China” passport cover to prevent Taiwanese from being mistaken for Chinese when traveling abroad.
Another topic of heated discussion is what to change the name of China Airlines to so that people know it is a Taiwanese airline.
The name suggestion from Christensen was something very rare and shows just how confusing it is, from a foreigner’s perspective, to call the league “Chinese” when the league plays in Taiwan.
Christensen’s suggestion complies with Washington’s long-time “one China” policy, which stands in stark contrast with Beijing’s “one China” principle, as the US neither recognizes Taiwan, nor accepts that it is part of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
For many years, Beijing has deliberately promulgate the “one China” principle and forced its diplomatic allies to accept it.
In comparison with the US’ policy, Beijing’s principle states that there is only one China in the world, that Beijing is the sole legitimate government representing the entire people of the PRC and that Taiwan is an inseparable part of China’s territory.
Due to Beijing’s long-term efforts and bribes, the words “China” or “Chinese” refer only to the country on the other side of the Taiwan Strait. In other words, these two words have, in effect, become a registered trademark of the Chinese Communist Party.
Although most countries recognize that there is only one China and that the PRC is the sole legitimate government representing it, many countries — such as the US — do not recognize or accept that Taiwan is part of the PRC.
It has become an international consensus that Taiwan and China are different nations. This explains why Christensen reportedly recommended replacing the word “Chinese” in the CPBL’s English-language name with “Taiwan.”
Many factors need to be considered before rectifying the official title on passports or the name of China Airlines, but it should be easy for the CPBL to change its name to “Taiwan Professional Baseball League.”
As CPBL commissioner John Wu (吳志揚) said, the league is a private organization, and not a government agency or state-run enterprise.
As this is the case, a name change only requires Wu’s determination to comply with Taiwanese and international public opinion.
It would be something to be proud of if the league could quickly change its name and once again bring Taiwan’s professional baseball to the world stage.
Ho Hua-kuo is a retired professor of National Chiayi University.
Translated by Chang Ho-ming
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