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October 31, 2013

Apple Drops China Reference from Taiwan Map

by Ralph Jennings

U.S.-based computer giant Apple Inc. has deleted wording on its mobile maps applications that had cast Taiwan as part of its political rival, China. Its move to cut the term “province of China” followed a complaint earlier this week from Taiwan’s government and angry citizens.
 
The change announced Thursday by the ministry labels the East Asian island as only “Taiwan” on its newest operating system, instead of the previous reference as a "province of China."
 
Beijing claims sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan and insists that the two sides will eventually reunify despite deep reservations on the island. Taiwan Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anna Kao says the demand on Apple is just one case of insisting that Taiwan get fair treatment internationally.
 
Kao said the government has always urged the discovery of names inappropriate for Taiwan as they appear in international space or online. She added that citizens and government offices often jointly work to react and demand corrections and that Taiwan has obtained a lot of pretty good case results.
 
China and Taiwan have been separately ruled since the Chinese civil war of the 1940s and many people in Taiwan prefer to keep a distance from Communist China despite warming relations since 2008. Beijing uses its economic clout to ask that foreign governments and other organizations consider Taiwan already a part of China.
 
Raymond Wu, managing director of Taipei-based political risk consultancy e-telligence, says other foreign companies and institutions will take note of the Apple map complaint.
 
“If they start to make a distinction between Taiwan and China, which they should, and then that will hopefully have a domino effect on others, who may also be not updated on the situation," Wu said.
 
In April, the Foreign Ministry protested to the U.S. government over an official trade website that grouped Taiwan under China, and the U.S. side made the change.
 
Experts also say the Taiwanese government pursues influential cases such as the one involving Apple to remind the world of its autonomy. The move also helps Taiwan’s politically embattled president, whose dismal public approval ratings are stuck in the teens.