U.S. magazine urges media to stop calling Taiwan ‘renegade province’

Washington, Jan. 18 (CNA) :- The U.S.-based Foreign Policy magazine recently took issue with some foreign media’s use of the term “renegade province” to refer to Taiwan, saying neither Taipei nor Beijing employs that phrase.

In an article titled “Stop Calling Taiwan a ‘Renegade Province,'” Isaac Stone Fish, Asia editor at Foreign Policy Magazine, said on Jan. 15 that many stories in Western news outlets had been referring to Taiwan as a renegade province in their reporting on Taiwan’s Jan. 16 presidential election.

In their recent reports, Reuters and the Wall Street Journal both said that Beijing sees Taiwan a “renegade province,” Fish said.

Such a term was also employed by the Washington Post, the Associated Press, Time and Bloomberg, among others, he said, citing examples.

“That is a mistake,” Fish said in the article.

Since the Republic of China government fled mainland China in 1949 after losing to the communist force, the status of the midsize island of Taiwan has been an open question, he noted.

“But one thing it most certainly isn’t is a ‘renegade province,'” he added.

He said the term is nonexistent in China, either in an English or a Chinese connotation.

“The Chinese don’t use the term for the simple reason that they don’t consider Taiwan a renegade province,” Fish said.

“They consider Taiwan a province pretending that it’s independent” and most Chinese references to Taiwan are as such, he said, citing Chinese scholars.

“We never used the English term ‘renegade province,'” Shen Dingli, vice dean of the Institute of International Affairs at China’s Fudan University, was quoted as saying in the article.

Maochun Yu, a Chinese scholar in the United States, said in the article that the term was coined by Westerners and that he had never heard any mainland official designating Taiwan as a renegade province.

Fish also made the point that Taiwan does not see itself as a renegade province, either.

Taiwan considers itself “a sovereign state,” Shen Lyu-shun (沈呂巡), Taiwan’s representative to the U.S., was quoted as saying in the article.

The issue of what Taiwan is called gets more complicated in the field of international diplomacy, Fish said.

For example, he said, the International Monetary Fund uses the term “Taiwan Province of China,” the International Olympic Committee calls it “Chinese Taipei”; Washington calls it Taiwan, and Beijing often calls it “Taiwan province.”

Compared with “Taiwan province of China,” Shen said in the article, “we prefer Chinese Taipei. We don’t like it, but we live with it.”

Fish said it was unclear when the phrase “renegade province” in reference to Taiwan first materialized in English.

He said that the earliest record he was able to find was in a 1973 article in Encounter, a literary magazine co-founded by American journalist Irving Kristol, and that the usage did not take off until the early 1980s.

Fish expressed the hope that the complexities in cross-Taiwan Strait relations will help bring an end this year to the phrase “renegade province” in reference to Taiwan.

(By Tony Liao and Elaine Hou)

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