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To the anger of Taiwan’s government and many of its people, Beijing views the island as merely a wayward Chinese province since the Republic government moved from mainland China in 1949. The dispute over international organisations referring to Taiwan as Chinese has moved from wild bird conservation to climate change.
This included a Taiwan bird conservation body who said it had been expelled from a partnership with a British-based wildlife charity after they demanded the Taiwan group change their name and sign documents stating they did not support Taiwan’s independence.
At the same time, the Brussels-based Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy had begun listing Taiwanese cities as belonging to China on its website.
This included the southern Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung over this weekend causing Taipei to react with anger.
Speaking at a news conference, Premier Su Tseng-chang said: “Taiwan is Taiwan. China is China.
“Taiwan is not a city of China’s. If there is incorrect usage we think this is extremely improper.
“China hopes to make Taiwan part of it in the world, a city of its. This is not in line with the facts.”
Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said it had asked the group to make a correction while Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chi-mai said his city was known globally as being in southern Taiwan, rather than as part of China.
Following the comments, Taipei claimed that the European Union stepped in saying the Global Covenant had reverted its original designation of the cities.
Joseph Wu, Taiwan Foreign Minister, said they are now listed as being part of Chinese Taipei.
The name is used by Taiwan in some international bodies like the Olympics to avoid Beijing’s objections to their participation.
Mr Wu told the Taiwan Parliament that the European Union “helped us in this effort”, without giving details.
He added: “We are very happy that with everyone’s hard work the name has reverted.
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“Though some people may not be happy with this name, at least the way we participate is not placed under another country.”
In response, the Global Covenant’s secretariat said it was an apolitical organisation promoting climate action.
A spokesman said: “Since our inception, we have designated cities in accordance with international practices and this has not changed since.
“We have received and are evaluating the request from the six mayors.”
It comes after Taiwan’s armed forces held anti-landing drills on one of its offshore islands close to China amid rising tensions with Beijing.
China has also stepped up its military activities near Taiwan which it claims as its own territory, including flying fighter jets across the unofficial midline of the sensitive Taiwan Strait, which combat aircraft normally don’t breach.
China says it has been reacting to what Beijing has called “collusion” between Taiwan and the United States, and to protect China’s sovereignty, responding to US Undersecretary for Economic Affairs Keith Krach’s visit last week to Taipei.
China’s Foreign Ministry has been approached for comment.
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