The Chinese government has denied accusations that it “diminished” Taiwan’s status after state media repeatedly made reference to “China Taipei” during sports news broadcasts over the past month.

Traditionally, the diplomatically-agreed term for Taiwan in sporting events has been “Chinese Taipei,” as Beijing does not recognise the island’s government.

Table Tennis sport
“China 3:0 China Taipei” in a CCTV table tennis broadcast on April 11. Photo: CCTV screenshot.

The Mainland Affairs Council – the island’s top policy-making body on cross-strait affairs – lodged a protest with Beijing on April 17 following the references to “China Taipei.”


While the international community has been referring to Taiwan as “Chinese Taipei” since the 1980s, Chinese state media only began adopting the term consistently beginning in 2008 following a warming of cross-strait relations. Before that year, “China Taipei” was a more often-used term.

The reversion to “China Taipei” was first noticed by the Taiwanese media on April 11 as CCTV replaced the ethnic term for Chinese (zhonghua) with the political term China (zhongguo) in a broadcast about the Asian Table Tennis Championships.

HKFP noted that state outlets such as People’s Daily and Xinhua have repeatedly referred to “China Taipei” since as early as February, although the use of the term is inconsistent, and some reports still refer to “Chinese Taipei”.

The Mainland Affairs Council said that the act was an attempt to “diminish” Taiwan’s status, and was unhelpful to cross-strait sporting relations. It said it would hurt the feelings of people on both sides of the strait, reported Taiwan’s Liberty Times last week.

Tsai Ing-wen
Tsai Ing-wen. Photo: Tsai Ing-wen Facebook.

Spokesperson Ma Xiaoguang for the Taiwan Affairs Office – Beijing’s administrative agency for the island – said in a press conference Wednesday that the government’s policy on Taiwan has not changed, reported the island’s United Daily News.

“The mainland media has reported on Taiwan affairs in accordance with the ‘One China’ principle,” he added. “There is no question of ‘diminishing’ Taiwan.”

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Cross-strait relations have cooled since the inauguration of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen last May. Her Democratic Progressive Party is nominally – but no longer outspokenly – pro-independence.

She has so far declined to publicly recognise the “One China” principle, stating that both sides of the strait are part of a single “China.” Beijing claims that the principle was enshrined during discussions with Taipei in 1992 as the foundation of cross-strait relations.

Chinese state media also consistently refer to Hong Kong as “China Hong Kong” in sporting news. It is unclear whether this term is only used during international events, as some mainland reports refer to the match-up in the annual Guangdong-Hong Kong football cup as “Guangdong” against “China Hong Kong”.

Elson Tong

Elson Tong

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.