U.S. university revises reference to Taiwan on COVID-19 map

A screenshot taken from JHU's website at: arcgis.com (CNA)

TAIPEI (CNA) — Johns Hopkins University (JHU) in the United States said Wednesday it has revised its reference to Taiwan in its COVID-19 coronavirus interactive map, in keeping with the U.S. State Department’s naming conventions.

The change followed a request by Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), via its representative office in Washington, for a correction to be made to give Taiwan its proper designation on the map.

MOFA was complaining about a revision made Wednesday by the JHU Coronavirus Resource Center, which relabeled “Taiwan” as “Taipei and environs” and put it under China on the map.

Following MOFA’s request, however, “Taiwan” was listed under the country/Region/Sovereignty tab.

In an email reply Wednesday to CNA’s questions on the matter, JHU media relations officer Douglas Donovan said that during a comprehensive review of the coronavirus interactive map, the project team had previously aligned the names of nations with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) naming conventions to achieve consistency in reporting.

“Upon further consideration, the team now uses U.S. State Department naming conventions, including the use of Taiwan,” Donovan said.

The U.S. State Department website refers to Taiwan simply as “Taiwan” under the Countries & Areas tab, while the WHO lists Taiwan as “Taipei and environs” and part of China’s territory.

At a press conference Thursday, MOFA spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said the Taiwan designation on the JHU’s coronavirus map was rectified at the request of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the U.S. and with the support of several U.S. government officials and lawmakers.

In particular, Ou thanked U.S. Senator Marco Rubio and Congressman Michael McCaul, saying that they, along with other “friends” in the U.S., had come out in support of Taiwan in the controversy.

She also said MOFA appreciates JHU’s swift action in correcting the labeling of Taiwan on the map and that Taiwan hopes to deepen its engagement with the university in various fields.