Taipei, President Tsai Ing-wen insisted Friday that Taiwan is a sovereign and independent nation, and that is a reality that will never change.
"We will never cease to exist," she said in response to the ongoing controversy surrounding a sculpture erected at the London School of Economics (LSE) that has emerged as the center of a dispute between Taiwan and China.
On March 26, the LSE unveiled a sculpture called "The World Turned Upside Down" by Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Wallinger outside its Saw Swee Hock Student Centre.
When it was unveiled, the sculpture showed Taiwan labeled as "REP. CHINA (Taiwan)" and colored in pink, while China was labeled "CHINA (People's Republic) and colored in yellow.
After Chinese students at the school protested Taiwan's designation, however, the school called a meeting Wednesday between them and their Taiwanese counterparts. The Chinese students proposed changing the globe's original design to make Taiwan the same color as China, a suggestion that was later accepted by the LSE.
One of the Taiwanese students at the meeting named Huang Li-an said the school made the decision to conform to maps issued by the United Nations, in which Taiwan does not have membership.
"This means that Taiwan will once again be recognized as part of China, which doesn't represent the reality," wrote Huang on Facebook.
On Friday, Tsai said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has directed its representative office in the United Kingdom to ask the LSE to reverse its decision on the issue.
Tsai, who is also an LSE alumna, said as long as she is president of the Republic of China (Taiwan), the security and sovereignty of the nation will always be safeguarded.
"As China increases its pressure on Taiwan, our international support continues to grow," she said.
In an open letter addressed to LSE Director Dame Minouche Shafik Friday, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu protested the decision made by the school, clarifying that Taiwan is a sovereign democratic country whose president and parliament are democratically elected.
"Taiwan has been praised as a democratic success story and a beacon of hope for the people of China, who are still living under autocratic and ruthless communist rule," Wu wrote.
He said any changes to the sculpture will only lead to people around the world believing that the LSE bowed to the pressure and bullying of Beijing.
"The British government refers to Taiwan, and conducts relations with Taiwan, as 'Taiwan,' period," Wu said, urging Shafik and the LSE not to change the depiction of Taiwan on the sculpture.
Meanwhile, an online petition called "Formosa Salon" launched on Facebook by Lee Bo-yi an LSE doctoral student from Taiwan, had garnered more than 8,000 signatures as of 7 p.m. Friday.
The group, which has about 2,000 members, called on every country, organization and individual that loves freedom, supports democracy and defends human rights to join together to demand the LSE to withdraw its decision and allow the sculpture to retain its original appearance.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel