Angered lawmakers in Taiwan are protesting Google’s listing of the island nation as a “province of China” on its online map service.
“Taiwan is an independent, sovereign state. Taiwan is not part of China,” David Huang, whip for the Taiwan Solidarity Union legislative caucus, told the Taipei Times.
“Taiwan has never been ruled by China, nor has the Chinese government deployed any government functionaries or armed forces here,” he said.
The caucus asked the Taiwan government to lodge a formal protest and urged the public to write the U.S. search-engine giant.
The lawmakers want Google, which recently opened an office in Shanghai, to define Taiwan as “an independent state.”
Google Maps provides users with business locations, contact information and driving directions.
Huang asserted listing Taiwan as a province of China shows the company has yielded to pressure from Beijing.
“It seriously sabotages the nation’s sovereignty,” he told the Times. “The people of Taiwan should not allow China to spread such misleading information to the international community.”
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman Michael Lu said yesterday the ministry has sent a telegram to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the U.S., instructing the office to address a letter to Google to make a correction, according to the Taipei paper.
“Taiwan is not a province of China,” Lu said.
David Wang, deputy director-general of the ministry’s Department of Information and Cultural Affairs, noting this wasn’t the first time international media outlets have included Taiwan as part of China’s territory, called for “swift action” to “set the facts straight.”
“Our stance on the matter is clear: It is something for which we have zero tolerance, and there should also be zero ambiguity about the nation’s sovereignty,” he said.
Tony Ong, deputy director of the Government Information Office’s International Information Department, said that many global media outlets do this to gain access to China’s tightly controlled market.
Last month, the media watchdog group Reporters Without Borders sharply criticized the China affiliate of the Internet portal Yahoo! for giving Chinese authorities information that contributed to the arrest and conviction of reporter Shi Tao, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for “divulging state secrets abroad.”
The watchdog group said, “We already knew that Yahoo! collaborates enthusiastically with the Chinese regime in questions of censorship, and now we know it is a Chinese police informant as well.”
In 2002, Yahoo! signed the “Public Pledge on Self-Discipline for the China Internet Industry,” which allows only an approved set of results for searches the government considers sensitive, such as “Taiwan independence.”