Cross-strait politics entered the world of science recently after a Chinese neurobiologist insisted that Taiwanese co-authors identify their university as being located in “Taiwan, China.”
News of the spat were first reported by ScienceInsider, a blog of the Science journal, on Friday, which said that cross-strait cooperation on scientific research had accelerated in the past decade. Usually, collaborators from both sides stayed clear of politics by avoiding references to “Republic of China” and “People’s Republic of China” and simply using “Taiwan” and China” respectively, it said.
However, the growing sense of nationalism in China appears to have entered the lab, with neurobiologist Rao Yi (饒毅) of Peking University insisting that a Taiwanese team led by neurobiologist Chiang Ann-shyn (江安世) of National Tsing Hua University (NTHU) in Hsinchu, which collaborated with Rao’s group on research, identify the university as being located in “Taiwan, China.”
Following back-and-forth visits and “exchanges of ideas,” one of Chiang’s students assisted Rao’s research team with scientific experiments seeking to understand the role of octopamine, a biomolecule, in the brain of Drosophila, a genus of small flies commonly known as “fruit flies.”
Rao drafted a paper on the findings and included Chiang and the student as co-authors. However, references to NTHU located it in “Taiwan, China.”
“It was unexpected,” Chiang is quoted as saying in the story, adding that projects funded by the National Science Council give scientists the right to state their address as “Taiwan” or “Taiwan, Republic of China.”
Rao, ScienceInsider said, also requested that the Taiwanese scientific community endorse such designation for universities in Taiwan.
In a letter to National Science Council Minister Lee Lou-chuang (李羅權) last week, in which the editor-in-chief of Science magazine was copied, Rao said a reasonable compromise was for the two sides to drop the “PR” and the “RO,” while retaining the word “China.” He said his group was willing to drop the PRC designation from its address and simply use “Beijing, China,” adding that Taiwan should reciprocate.
In a follow-up e-mail to ScienceInsider, Rao explained the rationale behind his decision.
“On the mainland [sic] side, the major concern is about Taiwan independence. When a paper lists ‘Taipei, Taiwan’ together with ‘Beijing, China,’ it equates Taiwan with China, not as a part of it,” he wrote.
If the council does not change the rule, it would be “extremely difficult for mainland Chinese scientists to co-author papers explicitly or implicitly endorsing a Taiwan that is not a part of China,” he said.
Rao’s contention goes in the face of nearly 15 years of scientific collaboration across the Taiwan Strait, which started with joint efforts between Academia Sinica’s Institute of Physics and the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of High Energy Physics.
“We have been using the ‘Taipei, Taiwan’ and ‘Beijing, China’ affiliation format in our publications since the birth of the [collaboration] in 1997,” says Henry Wong, who handles collaboration on Taiwan’s side, was quoted as saying.
According to National Science Council Deputy Minister Chen Cheng-hong (陳正宏), the number of papers with co-authors from Taiwan and China grew from 1,035 in 2009 to 1,207 last year.
For his part, Chiang took the incident in stride.
“Personally, I believe that China and Taiwan are heading [in] a friendly direction. With more patience, I hope we can all contribute to promoting scientific collaboration between the two sides,” he said.
The chief mechanic in an air force unit from which an F-16 and its pilot went missing last week died on Sunday evening in what might have been a suicide, the Ministry of National Defense said yesterday. The ministry in a statement confirmed media reports that the mechanic, surnamed Huang (黃), “hurt himself” at a military barracks. Huang was taken to Hualien Armed Forces General Hospital after he was found unresponsive in the barracks, but doctors could not revive him, the ministry said. Huang served in the 26th Tactical Fighter Group of the 5th Tactical Fighter Wing, the same unit as the missing
‘VIRUS DIPLOMACY’: The nation’s expertise in handling COVID-19 was among the reasons that it should not be excluded from the WHO, the European Parliament said The European Parliament this week passed resolutions that support Taiwan’s bid to participate in the WHO and its intention to negotiate a trade pact with Taiwan. During its plenary session from Monday to Thursday, the parliament approved resolutions on the foreign policy consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak and the EU’s trade policy, parts of which were viewed as friendly toward Taiwan by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In a statement yesterday, the ministry welcomed the passage of the resolutions and thanked the parliament for its support for Taiwan. In the first resolution, the parliament cited Beijing’s increasing threats to Taiwan, the crackdown on
NON-TYPICAL: Apart from Atsani, storms in autumn missed Taiwan, rainfall has been lower and average temperatures have been higher, a CWB forecaster said The current water shortage is expected to worsen in the next few months, with the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) yesterday forecasting a colder, dryer winter than normal. With winter starting next week, the bureau at a media briefing outlined the expected conditions through February and reviewed autumn’s significant weather events. Weather Forecast Center director Lu Kuo-cheng (呂國臣) said that autumn this year had three major characteristics: First, 13 tropical storms and typhoons formed from September to this month, up from 11 in the same period last year, Lu said. Apart from Atsani, for which sea and land alerts were issued in Taiwan, the tropical
The US’ inclusion of Taiwan in its Indo-Pacific Strategy is geared toward weakening Beijing’s influence in Southeast Asia, as well as providing a Blue Dot Network to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a senior Executive Yuan member said yesterday. Taiwan and the US would be seeking further collaboration on infrastructure construction and energy, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The US and Taiwan signed a memorandum of understanding on the Framework to Strengthen Infrastructure, Finance and Market Cooperation on Sept. 17, which would see the Ministry of Finance and the US Department of the Treasury establishing respective task