Taiwan is officially called the “Republic of China.” However, Taiwanese people and Taiwanese politicians have favored foreigners and foreign companies to call the island “Taiwan” as many have been pressured by China to refer to the island as a part of China.
The Taiwanese people have repeatedly asked to be called Taiwanese fearing being confused as Chinese. Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry has also pushed for the use of Taiwan in its representative offices abroad in recent years.
Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry announced a new passport design that enlarged “Taiwan” and shrunk the official name “Republic of China” in late 2020. More than 70% of the Taiwanese population have shown that they support the English name change on the passport cover, according to a New Power Party Poll. Prior to the change, the passport had “Republic of China” as the title and “Taiwan” on the bottom half of the cover.
Another poll by the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation shows that 76.8 percent of the respondents identify solely as Taiwanese and 11.3 percent identify as both Chinese and Taiwanese. However, the strong support for “Taiwan” doesn’t seem to be reflected in the government. Although the ruling Democratic Progressive Party has been pushing for a constitution amendment on other topics, a name change doesn’t seem to be happening anytime soon.
The Taiwanese identity seems to be the future, but the population doesn’t seem to agree to an official name change. A referendum in 2020 pushing for the use of “Taiwan” in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics failed as 54 percent of the voters disagreed. Many who voted disagreed, feared Chinese retaliation, and that Taiwanese athletes wouldn’t be allowed to participate if the representative team changed their name. Polls have shown that more than 50 percent of the population agreed to use Taiwan in international events compared to the 9 percent for “Chinese Taipei,” the current name, according to the Taiwan Think Tank.
It seems hypocritical that the Taiwanese hope to be called Taiwan and get rid of any labels as Chinese and “Republic of China,” but aren’t willing to risk anything at all, nor withstand any of the consequences that it might bring. The official name of the “Republic of China” will become a huge challenge in the upcoming years as Taiwan attempt to build stronger ties with foreign nations. Again and again, we’ve seen the Taiwanese people ask others to call themselves Taiwan, but is that really reasonable when it seems like the Taiwanese people are not yet prepared for a change.
Is it really acceptable to demand others to call us Taiwan, if our country is still called the Republic of China and we ourselves are unable to figure out a widely agreed-upon country name, flag, or anthem?