Chinese Taipei

From Academic Kids

Chinese Taipei (中華台北; Hanyu Pinyin: Zhōnghu Tibĕi) is the designated name that the Republic of China (ROC or Taiwan) uses to participate in most international organizations due to the insistence by the People's Republic of China (PRC) of its version of the One-China policy over the political status of Taiwan. In Chinese, it is Zhōnghu Tibĕi (中華台北), although the PRC uses Zhōnggu Tibĕi (中国台北; literally Taipei, China) so as to suggest its sovereignty over Taiwan. The PRC has used Zhōnggu Tibĕi whenever possible, during APEC Forum 2001 hosted by Shanghai, China, for example. The government of the ROC considers Zhōnggu Tibĕi offensive, as this places Taiwan on the same level as Hong Kong, China, and Macao, China.



The People's Republic of China, which claims Taiwan as part of its territory, effectively blocks the Republic of China on Taiwan from using the titles "Taiwan" or "Republic of China" in international organizations. To the PRC, having Taiwan represented as the "Republic of China" suggests either the continued existence of a state that PRC believes it has toppled or the existence of two Chinas, a contravention of the One-China Policy; having Taiwan represented by its common name "Taiwan" suggests that China and Taiwan are separate countries. Both cases would, in the eyes of the PRC, support a "conspiracy to split Taiwan from the motherland".

When international organizations downgraded or even expelled Taiwan in the 1970s and 1980s in favor of recognizing the PRC, the Kuomintang-controlled ROC government refused to be designated as "Taiwan, China" because the title would imply that it was subordinate to the mainland Chinese government. At the time, the Kuomintang government also rejected the names "Taiwan" and "Formosa" because it still considered itself the sole legitimate government of all China and refused any hint of Taiwan independence. Therefore, it chose the politically neutral title "Chinese Taipei," even though Taipei is just a metropolitan region small in proportion to the entire Taiwan Region.

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Chinese Taipei Olympic Flag


The name "Chinese Taipei" has spilled into apolitical arenas. Flight schedules from official airport websites such as those for Los Angeles International Airport and San Francisco International Airport list flights to and from Chiang Kai-shek International Airport as "Taipei, Chinese Taipei." The PRC has even successfully pressured religious organizations and nonpolitical organizations such as the Lions Club to have Taiwan relegated to "Chinese Taipei".

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Chinese Taipei Soccer Flag

Because of the confusing and misleading title of "Chinese Taipei," some people actually believe that Taipei is a country. To reduce confusion, news agencies remove "Chinese Taipei" references from press releases of international organizations and simply refer to the ROC as "Taiwan". For sporting events, the Taiwanese team is abbreviated in Taiwan as the Zhonghua Team (中華隊; Zhonghua being another variation of the term China), which, in effect, labels it the "Chinese Team". However, as of the 2004 Summer Olympics, there has been a movement in Taiwan to change all references of the ROC team in media to the "Taiwanese Team," and the mainstream Taiwan Television (TTV) is one of the first Taiwanese media to do so. In contrast to both Taiwanese and most foreign usage, the PRC always labels the Taiwanese team as the Zhongguo Taibei Team (中国台北队 or "Taipei, China Team," using the PRC's preferred translation for the term) to avoid either suggesting that Taiwan is independent or the ROC is China.

The current Democratic Progressive Party government's policy on Taiwan's name in international settings is ambiguous. As for the Republic of China on Taiwan de facto embassies abroad, pro-Taiwan independence groups have unsuccessfully petitioned to have the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) renamed the more official-sounding "Taiwan Representative Office." Foreign Minister Eugene Chien also promoted the idea of making the newly established ROC embassy in Kiribati the first to bear the name "Taiwan". The ROC government also altered the cover of the ROC passport to include the name "Taiwan": its official explanation for the addition was to avoid confusion at foreign immigration and customs that the passport holder is a citizen of the Republic of China on Taiwan, not from the PRC on the mainland.

Other references to Taiwan

Whenever the United Nations makes reference to the ROC, it uses the designation "Taiwan, Province of China." Certain web-based postal address programs also label the country designation name for Taiwan as "Taiwan, Province of China" to the chagrin of the Taiwanese postal authorities.

In other organizations such as the World Trade Organization, the name "Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Quemoy, and Matsu" is used, but "Chinese Taipei" is used unofficially since the official designation is too unwieldy. As a founding member of the Asian Development Bank, the ROC participated in the organization as "Republic of China" until PRC's membership in 1986; because of pressure from PRC, Asian Development Bank now uses the name "Taipei, China" for the ROC.

The World Organization of the Scout Movement is one of few organizations that continue to refer to the Republic of China as "China", and the Taiwan affiliate as the Scouts of China. This is because such scouting organizations do not exist in mainland China.

Political interference in the airline industry

Certain airlines have had to create subsidiaries with subtle name changes to avoid offending Beijing with their flights to the ROC. For instance, when British Airways served Taiwan, it had to call itself British Asia Airways. SO does KLM Asia. Japan Asia Airways was created so that Japan Airlines could fly to Taiwan without protests from the PRC.

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