At the height of the Cold War, the administration of former US president Richard Nixon developed a strategic policy with the intent of weakening the Soviet Union. This involved forming an alliance with the People’s Republic of China.
To ingratiate itself with the Chinese Communist Party, Washington capitulated to Beijing’s provocative “one China” policy. The decision caused Taiwan much grief in the international arena, although the situation today is very different.
In 2019, Taiwan’s representative office in Washington, formerly the Coordination Council for North American Affairs, was renamed the Taiwan Council for US Affairs. The US Congress earlier this year introduced the Taiwan Diplomatic Review Act. It requires that the office be renamed again to the Taiwan Representative Office.
Japan has gone even further. Its national broadcaster, NHK, referred to Taiwan’s Olympic team as “Taiwan” rather than “Chinese Taipei” when it appeared during the Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony.
Japan’s annual defense white paper, published last month, also features a significant change regarding Taiwan. The yearly report customarily adheres to Beijing’s “one China” policy, but for the first time this year a map within the document featured Taiwan as a separate entity, shaded in a different color from China, signifying a major shift.
On Wednesday, the US House of Representatives passed the Fiscal Year 2022 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Funding Bill. It was passed with an amendment that would prohibit any US government department from producing, purchasing or displaying any map depicting Taiwan as part of China. The proposer of the amendment, US Representative Tom Tiffany, called Beijing’s “one China” policy “bogus” and a “lie,” and called on the US to abandon its “dishonest” adherence to it.
Both the US’ and Japan’s attitudes toward Taiwan have changed markedly. This dramatic shift lies in the transformed international strategic environment resulting from China’s repeated provocations in the Taiwan Strait, along with its hegemonic behavior in the entire Indo-Pacific region, which has raised the specter of regional conflict.
The international picture is shaping up to be greatly in Taiwan’s favor. Washington and Tokyo have made it clear that they are no longer willing to accept the “one China” lie. This begs the question: What is Taiwan’s own position?
Each time a Taiwanese competitor won a medal at this year’s Olympics, the nation erupted in excitement. President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) called Taiwan’s athletes “the pride of Taiwan.” However, the national team is still saddled with the name “Chinese Taipei,” allowing nationalist Chinese to falsely combine Taiwan’s successes and medal tally with their own.
A series of doping scandals had the Russian national team banned from this year’s Olympics. Some Russian athletes competed in the Games, but as the “Russian Olympic Committee” — resulting in the acronym “ROC.” At first glance, it would appear to some that there were two Republic of China (ROC) teams at the Games. British newspaper The Guardian reported an amusing incident where the Russian Olympic Committee’s flag had been misprinted as “Chinese Taipei.”
The bungle should remind Taiwanese that we cannot continue fooling ourselves and others with the “one China” lie. The US and Japan are taking actions to jettison the lie into the dustbin of history. Is Taiwan following suit? It is time that we woke up from this lie and started calling ourselves by our name: Taiwan.
Tommy Lin is a physician and president of the Formosa Republican Association.
Translated by Edward Jones
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