Renamed “Chinese Taipei” by the Venice Film Festival, Taiwan is indignant and demands a rectification

The management of the Italian festival has reportedly changed the country name of two Taiwanese directors – including a former Golden Lion – following a complaint from the People’s Republic of China.

The intervention makes Formosa see red. Taiwan said on Tuesday it demanded a rectification after organizers of the Venice Film Festival presented two feature films depicting the island as “Chinese Taipei”, named after the island’s capital. A compromise term used in particular to designate Taiwan during the Olympic Games, this name was not in use at the Venice Film Festival before the organizers changed their position following a “contestation” from Beijing, the Taipei Foreign Ministry said.

Taiwan’s representative office in Italy has requested a rectification which has so far gone unanswered, said Kendra Chen, deputy head of the ministry’s European affairs department. “We will continue to dialogue with the organizers and demand rectification in order to ensure that our films will not be subjected to excessive repression and that our sovereignty will not be annihilated”, she said during an online press briefing. The two films presented by the country at the festival are the documentary The Night by director Tsai Ming-liang and the drama The Falls by Chung Mong-hong, both initially presented at the festival as being from Taiwan.

Pressures from the People’s Republic of China

Born in Malaysia and living in Taiwan, Tsai Ming-liang is one of the island’s most internationally recognized directors. His feature film Long Live Love, made in 1994, won the coveted Golden Lion in Venice and Stray dogs received the Grand Jury Prize in 2013. AFP contacted the organizers of the festival to obtain a comment, without immediate response. Films by Jane Campion, Pedro Almodovar and Paolo Sorrentino are among the films in competition at the 78th edition of the Venice Film Festival, to be held from 1er to September 11.

Due to the latent conflict with mainland China and the island’s growing isolation on the international stage, Taiwanese artists often find themselves excluded from major events or forced to register under names that Beijing deems acceptable. Considered at home as citizens of the Republic of China – officially named Taiwan – Taiwanese athletes must compete abroad under the banner of “Chinese Taipei”, as was the case this summer during the Tokyo Olympics. The People’s Republic of China, based in Beijing and led by the Communist Party, considers the island part of its territory and regularly threatens to use force in the event of a formal declaration of independence in Taipei.


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