Taiwan's Council of Indigenous Peoples Pulls Out of Hangzhou Cultural Expo

Taiwan's Council of Indigenous Peoples Pulls Out of Hangzhou Cultural Expo
Photo Credit: Council of Indigenous Peoples
What you need to know

The organizers removed signage from the Council of Indigenous Peoples’ booth due to disagreement over using the term 'indigenous peoples.'

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Taiwan’s Council of Indigenous Peoples (CIP) yesterday withdrew from the 2016 Hangzhou Cultural and Creative Industry Expo after the CIP’s full name was removed from their exhibit at the expo.

The CIP, along with 10 indigenous cultural industry groups, had planned to attend the expo from Oct. 20-24.

In a press statement released on their website yesterday, the CIP said that the General Chamber of Commerce of the Republic of China conveyed a request from the organizing committee of the expo on Oct. 14 that the CIP change “indigenous peoples” to “minorities” on all their exhibit material.

“We will not allow the usage of ‘indigenous peoples’ regardless of which organization,” the CIP was told.

Despite ongoing negotiations to keep the title with “indigenous peoples,” the organizing committee in China removed the CIP’s sign from their “Ayoi Indigenous Peoples Cultural Booth.”

“To protect the dignity of Taiwan and its indigenous community, representatives from the council will hand in a letter of protest to the organizers of the expo and withdraw our participation,” the CIP said in a statement.

In its protest letter, the CIP stressed that the expo should be about cultural exchange. “Politicizing the issue is no help to cross-Strait relations,” it said.

Calling the Chinese government "a bandit," Taiwanese legislator Kolas Yotaka condemned its “iron hand” in a press statement sent to The News Lens International.

Kolas supported the CIP’s decision to withdraw from the expo, saying, “They [indigenous people] refused to be referred to as ‘mountain folks,’ ‘compatriots,’ ‘savages’ or ‘minorities’ because ‘Indigenous Peoples’ means that they are the original owners of this land.”

“The use of ‘minorities’ is representative of Han Chinese arrogance and its perception of superiority,” said Kolas. She also said that China could not treat Taiwanese indigenous peoples the way it treats other ethnic groups in China.

“Taiwan is not a part of China. We don’t buy it,” Kolas said.

The withdrawal of the CIP from a Chinese event follows China's blocking Taiwan from the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) air safety summit in September.

First Editor: Olivia Yang
Second Editor: J. Michael Cole