The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has stopped referring to Taiwan as “Chinese Taipei” in official documents in response to a complaint from the Washington-based Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA).
The complaint was lodged following the earthquake in Chile about six weeks ago when there were fears that a resulting tsunami could reach Taiwan.
At the time, the NOAA issued a tsunami alert in which it referred to Taiwan as Chinese Taipei.
In a letter to the NOAA — an agency affiliated with the US Department of Commerce — FAPA president Bob Yang (楊英育) said that it was an “incontestable reality that Taiwan is not a part of China.”
He said that in 1996 the US State Department issued a memorandum saying that since the US had no diplomatic relations with the Republic of China, US officials should refer to the country as “Taiwan.”
At a later date, William Burns, executive secretary of the State Department at the time, ruled that “consistent with the unofficial nature of US-Taiwan ties, we refer to Taiwan simply as Taiwan.”
Yang told NOAA that it was “of concern to my members” that the organization was referring to Taiwan as Chinese Taipei.
“I respectfully request that NOAA adopt the long-established US State Department guidelines consistent with US national policies and correct this factual error,” wrote Yang.
In response, Dan Thompson, director of international activities at NOAA, said that after consulting with the American Institute in Taiwan, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center had “corrected” its database and that in future it would refer to Taiwan by its proper name — Taiwan.
“We are pleased with the outcome,” a FAPA official said.
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