Everybody is happy that Chinese Taipei is represented in the 16-day Summer Olympics in Beijing, which opened last Friday. We weren't always sure this would be the case. Not long ago, Taiwan was on the verge of boycotting the Games to make all concerned very unhappy. 

Taiwan threatened the boycott over what all non-Chinese would consider "no big deal." It was Beijing that started the row by insisting on using its Chinese translation of "Chinese Taipei" to designate the Olympic team of Taipei. That strange-sounding term was invented and coined in English to let Taiwan, which used to insist on calling itself the Republic of China, take part in the Olympics in the first place. In Beijing, it is translated into Chinese as "China, Taipei" or "Zhongguo Taipei." Its Taiwan counterpart is "Zhonghua Taipei" or "Chinese, Taipei." So far as the man in the street on either side of the Taiwan Strait is concerned, there's no difference between "Zhongguo" and "Zhonghua." The People's Republic of China is an English translation of "Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo." The Chinese title of the Republic of China is "Zhonghua Minguo." But even politicians acknowledge "Chinese" as "Zhonghua" and with the exception of a few, as "Zhongguo." Incidentally, "Zhong" means "the center," while "Hua" and "Guo" can be rendered as "flower" and "country." 

The Americans and even the Japanese who freely use Chinese logograms, as well as other non-Chinese speaking peoples, have found it enigmatically difficult to understand why Taiwan would try to take such an extreme course as boycotting the Beijing Olympics if it were not addressed to as "Chinese, Taipei" or "Zhonghua Taipei." They see no difference between "Zhonghua" and "Zhongguo" in translation into Chinese. So why the fuss? 

Well, it isn't nit-picking in Confucian China, where the rectification of names is very important. But politicians in Taiwan are too sensitive to have Chinese Taipei called "China, Taipei." They read into that term Taiwan's total submission to China. They allege it signifies Taiwan is part of or subordinate to China. They may be a little paranoiac

Their counterparts in Beijing are not as sensitive. In fact, they attach less importance to the rectification of names. They agreed to comply with Taiwan's demand that its team be called "Chinese, Taipei." 

Vocabuary

allege :  (無充分證據而)斷言,宣稱
boycott :  聯合抵制;拒絕參加(或購買等);一致與
comply : (對要求、命令等)依從,順從,遵從[(+with)]
counter : "1. 反對 2. 相反的"
counterpart : 相對物
course : 路線;方向[C]
enigmatically : 神祕地;讓人捉摸不透地
extreme : 極端,末端
freely : 自由地,無拘束地
fuss : 忙亂;大驚小怪;小題大作[U][S1][(+about/over)]
logogram : 語標(代表某字的符號)
paranoiac : 偏執狂的
rectification : 矯正;改正
render : 使得,使成為[O8][O9]
represent : 描繪,(抽象地)表現
sensitive : 敏感的;易受傷害的[(+to)]
signify : 表示...的意思;有...的意思
submission : 屈從;歸順;投降[U][(+to)]
subordinate : 下級的[(+to)]
verge : 邊,邊沿,邊緣[C]

 

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