China forces Spanish university to cancel Taiwan cultural events

The University of Salamanca is the only one in Spain to offer studies about Taiwan, through a Master’s Degree in East Asian Studies that is offered by the University since the past 10 years.

Taipei, Aug. 26 (CNA)-The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Sunday expressed strong discontent over China for pressuring a university in Spain in October last year to cancel events aimed at promoting Taiwan culture.

The ministry’s statement came after Shiany Perez-Cheng, a Spanish Ph.D. candidate who is a visiting scholar at National Taiwan University on the government’s Taiwan Fellowship, published a letter from China’s embassy in Spain to the University of Salamanca.

“Today I decided to go public with the email #China’s embassy in Spain sent to coerce the University of #Salamanca into cancelling “Taiwan Cultural Days” in October 2017,” Shiany Perez-Cheng said in a tweet posted Saturday. She uses the name Xiani P. Ch. in twitter.

According to her, the university’s president and dean of its School of Social Science both received emails from the Chinese Embassy when a series of crowdfunded events and activities of “Taiwan Cultural Days” were being held in October, 2017.

In the emails, the embassy said it did not object to academic exchanges, but was completely dissatisfied and concerned about the “incorrect expressions” in related materials that “do not fall in line with the Spanish government who has long followed the ‘one China’ principle.”

Of the “incorrect expression” listed in the emails, the embassy said that Simon Ko should not be presented as “Ambassador of Taiwan” or “vice minister of foreign affairs of Taiwan,” nor should Taiwan region be referred to as “Republic of China (Taiwan).”

Ko has served as Taiwan’s representative to Spain since 2015. His previous position was vice minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Chinese Embassy urged the university not to be used by Taiwanese authorities as a platform for their political propaganda or risk affecting the institution’s good relations with China.

“We demand your university adhere to the ‘one China principle’ and take measures to avoid and eliminate the adverse effect,” the emails read.

The dean of the university’s School of Social Science then sent an email to the university’s colleagues, in which it said the scheduled activities for the “Taiwan Cultural Days” on Oct. 25 and 26 have been canceled due to circumstances not related to the School of Social Science, according to Shiany Perez-Cheng.

According to the ministry, the “irrational” protest staged by China seriously disrupted the scheduled activities of “Taiwan Cultural Days” and related programs.

The fact that China has acted in an abominable manner to suppress
Taiwan not only has hurt the feelings of the people of Taiwan but also
caused Taiwanese anger at and animosity toward China, serving only to
alienate Taiwan from China, the ministry said.

The ministry called on the international community to stand up against Chinese interference in academic freedom and inculcating its political ideology, the ministry said. “The way Chinese diplomatic missions attack Taiwan has gone out of control,” it said.