Saturday, December 06, 2008

It’s everywhere you want to be — except Taiwan [UPDATED]

I finally received yesterday my renewed Visa card from the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), which kindly used a courier service to expedite it to my address in Taiwan. No small was my surprise, however, when upon opening the Purolator Express envelope, the RBC envelope it contained referred to TAIWAN PROV. OF CHINA. The latter three words had obviously been added to the address I provided RBC with (for its part, the Purolator envelope only read TAIWAN).

I immediately send a letter of complaint to the office of the ombudsman at RBC asking that the unseemly reference be removed, and will share with readers whatever response, if any, I receive. (Some companies, after receiving complaints, are known to have corrected the error.)

This instance is part of a trend in recent months where major companies and institutions around the world have begun adding the “Province of China” to Taiwan, if not changing the designation altogether to “Taipei, China.” iUniverse, the publisher of my book, uses the “Province of China” designation, as did a NASA database before the error was pointed out, while at the Asian Development Bank, of which Taiwan is a member, the long-used “Republic of China” designation was recently changed to “Taipei, China.” has used “Province of China” on certain orders, though not all of them, which raises the possibility that human intervention, rather than company-wide policy, might be behind the addition.

Although this would require further investigation, it is also very possible that China has begun asking companies wishing to do business with it to make that addition as a condition. The danger in this, of course, is that by dint of exposure, people outside Taiwan, who for obvious reasons do not follow regional politics or who are not aware of the distinction, could come to the conclusion that Taiwan is, indeed, part of China, and see any indication otherwise as fabrication or the dream of passé “radicals.”

Readers are encouraged to challenge every reference, in print or company documents, to TAIWAN PROV. OF CHINA or TAIPEI, CHINA by writing to those responsible and asking them to get their facts right. Otherwise, in global consciousness, China could be creating, one designation at a time, a fait accompli.

RBC responded on Dec. 7:

Dear Mr. Cole:

We sincerely apologize that a mistake was made on the address. Since Taiwan is an independent country, we will definitely correct our records.

[name removed]
Customer Service Representative
RBC Royal Bank


Anonymous said...

Merci d'avoir porté à notre attention ce fait pouvant paraître anodin mais qui'NIE' une réalité que des millions de gens vivent!De petits gestes comme le tien peuvent à la longue faire la différence!
maman Réjane

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