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We Deserve to be Called Taiwan

Sophia Yang, Ranger Review Contributor

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Historical Note:

China was ruled by emperors until 1912, and then the country remained politically unstable through both World Wars until 1949, when Communist forces finally prevailed over Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek.  Escaping from mainland China, many of the nationalist Chinese moved to the island of Formosa, now called Taiwan (see map insert), and established the fiercely independent Republic of China. Ever since, Communist China has claimed ownership of the island and its inhabitants; therefore, most Western countries are scared to officially recognize Taiwan as an independent country but still actually support it and treat it as if it were one.    

–Jason Curry and Sarah Way, Greely High School Social Studies Teachers


I wrapped my hands around the ceramic mug, and let the warmth flow through my fingers as I took a small sip of the hot chocolate and looked back to the laptop. I was trying to book plane tickets for our trip to New York City during Christmas break. The website had instructed me to fill out the second section: Departure Country.

Pullquote Photo

I cannot define my nationality in a single way although I’m sure that people walking down the street don’t hesitate to label me as “Chinese.” ”

— Sophia Yang

I entered “Taiwan” without hesitation, just like filling out what my name was.

No results.

I must be the typo queen. It was only six letters, how did I mess this  up? Maybe

the internet was disconnected. I deleted and re-entered “T-a-i-w-a-n.” Still, no result.

Later that week I found out the reason: China’s government had demanded that foreign airlines and businesses remove references to Taiwan as an independent entity from their websites.

I cannot define my nationality in a single way although I’m sure that people walking down the street don’t hesitate to label me as “Chinese.” Our passports say Republic of China; our national team jerseys say Chinese Taipei; shipping labels say China Taiwan. Because I have black hair, olive skin, and I speak Chinese, I am often misperceived. It’s frustrating. I almost always prove myself Chinese instead of Taiwanese when explaining our historical background. Do I wish that I had been born in another country so that when I say I’m Taiwanese, they won’t mistake me as Chinese? No, I accept and value where I’m from. I cherish being Taiwanese. To me, being Taiwanese is more than speaking Chinese. It is living on the stunningly beautiful island, enjoying the cultural influence of  both Japanese and Chinese colonization, and having a family who is as proud of their heritage as I am.

Last month, Taiwanese citizens voted on a controversial topic: should athletes compete in the Olympics and other international games under the name “Taiwan” instead of “Chinese Taipei”? People have pointed out that passing this referendum may leave the right of athletes to compete in future international competitions in doubt. Honestly, I wasn’t surprised that the referendum was rejected, but I did refute those who rejected it. If everyone cares only about the rights of the athletes, then who is supposed to care about our country? The priority should be the country rather than individuals. Rejecting the initiative means that our national identity isn’t important enough.

What is the point of participating or winning if the flag we use isn’t our national flag, if the country we represent isn’t our country, and if the song we play isn’t our national anthem? We often humble ourselves by adopting names other than Taiwanese to participate in international events, but are we still seen as Taiwanese? Or are we seen as Chinese? Will we receive international respect when we are oppressed by informal names? No, not at all. That only makes us look like a group of people who are too weak to fight for their own rights. If we don’t respect our own country, why should others respect us?

It is unacceptable to be addressed with several distorted names. In fact, it is unacceptable to back down just because we are afraid of losing what we have—our sovereignty, dignity, and everything else that makes us us. No matter what happens in the future, as long as we hold onto who we are and know what we have, we will always be Taiwanese. No one else besides us will fight for us, for we have nowhere to retreat and no reason to concede. I know it is so much easier to admit and accept that we are Chinese, but it simply cannot be done. Since when did we start to settle for the easy way out? We need to stop convincing ourselves that there’s nothing wrong with being called Chinese Taipei, or China Taiwan, or even Taipei; we deserve to be called Taiwan.

* Sophia Yang is an exchange student currently attending Greely High School.

Map: Furfur [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons



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The Student Newspaper of Greely High School
We Deserve to be Called Taiwan