Source: The Guardian (4/4/18)
Man Booker prize reverses nationality decision on Taiwanese author
The literary prize announces that it will no longer list authors by nationality, but by country or territory, after drawing criticism when it bowed to pressure from China
By Alison Flood
Proudly Taiwanese … Wu Ming-Yi, pictured in Taipei in 2016. Photograph: Wu Ming-Yi/EPA
The Man Booker International prize has backed away from its decision to change a Taiwanese author’s nationality to “Taiwan, China” after it was criticised for bowing to pressure from Beijing.
Author Wu Ming-Yi, who has been longlisted for his novel The Stolen Bicycle, was originally described by award organisers as a writer from Taiwan, when his nomination was announced in March. Following a complaint from the Chinese embassy in London last week, his nationality was changed on the prize’s website to “Taiwan, China”.
Beijing maintains that the self-governed island is part of China, and has recently ramped up pressure on foreign companies that describe Taiwan as a country, with German airline Lufthansa and British Airways dropping Taiwan from their lists of countries.
The switch was noted by Wu on his Facebook page, where he said it was “not my personal position on this issue”. The cause was also taken up by Taiwan’s ministry of culture, which stated that Taiwan was “a sovereign state that participates in international affairs with respect and fairness”, and called on the Booker Prize Foundation not to “bow to external influence and … respect authors and their home countries”.
As the Man Booker International prize’s Facebook page was flooded with one-star reviews and petitions were launched calling on it to reverse its decision and identify Wu’s country as Taiwan, the organisers announced on Wednesday morning that “following correspondence with stakeholders and additional guidance on the appropriate terminology from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office”, in the future it would list the “country/territory” of authors up for the prize, rather than their nationalities. Wu will again be listed as “Taiwan”.
“The prize is not about defining nationality; all global citizens are eligible, provided they are published in translation in the UK,” said the organisers in a statement.
A spokesperson for the prize added: “It is the country/territory of origin rather than nationality. Taiwan is officially designated a territory rather than a country by the FCO.”
The Chinese embassy, which initially complained to the Foundation about how it had identified Wu, said in a statement: “China’s position on the Taiwan issue is consistent and clear. There is only one China in the world, and Taiwan is an inseparable part of China. This is the universal consensus of the international community. China opposes any words or deeds that violate the one-China principle and are contrary to the international consensus.”