Negative experience for Taiwanese teams at Worlds

I know what the explanation is, so I’m not looking for an explanation.

I’m just relating our personal experience at Elementary Worlds this year.

My (American) family and friends were deeply troubled when we heard “Chinese Taipei” announced in the Parade of Nations. We were initially confused (what strange country is this?), and then based on the silhouette of the country shown, we realized that they must be talking about Taiwan. None of us had ever heard of Chinese Taipei before. I’m sure most people in the audience had no idea that these people in the parade were actually from the country that we all call Taiwan. The flag that they were forced to wave was not a Taiwanese flag, but an unfamiliar one that (strangely) had Olympic rings on it.

I looked this up online after the ceremony, and I read all about the controversy-filled history of the term “Chinese Taipei,” including the fact that this name is “viewed as anachronistic, aggravating, or even a humiliating and shameful symbol by many Taiwanese.”

I asked my Taiwanese-American friend about this, and he said that the name was hurtful, and that his parents were really upset by it. His 9-year-old daughter (second generation Taiwanese-American) was mortified every time she heard Chinese Taipei announced during the qualifying matches. She kept turning around in exasperation and whispering, “Why do they keep calling it that? It’s called Taiwan!”

I also noticed that all of these teams had the word “Taiwan” on their team shirts and uniforms.

Finally, after the division finals, I saw a large Taiwanese team assembling for a group photo a the Red/Blue Lighted Vex Worlds Archway. They were holding up a large Taiwanese flag (the real one, not the unfamiliar Olympic one), and they told me that their flag was “banned” during the competition itself, but now that the competition was over, they could display their flag openly. I asked them about the name Chinese Taipei, and they were overjoyed that someone cared about the troubles they were facing at Worlds.

Doing a bit more research, I discovered that last year at Middle School Worlds, the name “Taiwan” was used by one of the finals announcers… maybe by accident, or maybe intentionally as a subtle rebellion:

But I also noticed that on the Finals leaderboard, everyone had flags shown except for Taiwanese teams, which were left blank with no flag:

And then for the Elementary competition last year, the Olympic flag was used (instead of blank):

And the Elementary announcer called that one team Chinese Taipei.

Like I said, I know the explanation.

But I’m reporting that many people are troubled by this disrespectful behavior on the part of REC and VEX.

Call people what they themselves want to be called. Show the flag that they themselves want to show.

I can’t imagine that any Chinese families or students would be offended or hurt by the name “Taiwan” or the display of the Taiwanese flag. But I have first-hand experience with Taiwanese families and students being offended and hurt by the name Chinese Taipei and by being forbidden from displaying their flag. I know that Chinese politicians would be upset by this. But this is not an event for politicians. It’s an event for students and families.


For the record, I agree with you.

This was discussed last week in this this thread: Worlds Emcees / Taiwan - #3 by EngineerMike

Remember that Vex is running a business, and things have implications.


Your comment is well reasoned. When arriving at the hotel my team noticed a large high school team from Taiwan arriving. Their team shirts on the back had “Chinese Taipei” but then it was struck through with a half opaque swoosh. “Taiwan” was clearly printed on the back underneath. They were attracting attention as several people were taking photos of their shirts.

Our teammate explained how the previous year the term Chinese Taipei was used at the event. Hopefully the event planners will work with those teams to reach a consensus how to denominate the country. What the country is called (as per my research )depends upon differing international views, and recognitions by other nation states.


Hear, hear! I was so sad to see this. I imagine Vex was threatened in some fashion to make this decision, and made it to maintain commercial interests in China. While I find this distasteful, some transparency would feel better to me than “celebrating” nations while kowtowing to their oppressors and pretending like it’s normal.

I acknowledge that it’s a really tricky spot - I’m guessing there are millions of dollars (and the experience of thousands of kids) on the line if China has threatened to outlaw vex if they don’t comply or something. But it would at least be nice to that Vex made the decision with a heavy heart and feel sorry to do this to their supporters in Taiwan.


Agree with you as well, but officially the United States does not even recognize Taiwan as a country. We’ve had a one China policy for quite some time.

One China - Wikipedia.

There’s also a question of what is Taiwanese. I spoke with many over the years and there is a distinction between those that came 70 years ago and those that have been there for thousands of years.

On many levels, this is an incredibly complicated issue and I do not expect for vex and RECF to spend their time and energy trying to fix something that the international community hasn’t resolved for decades upon decades.

I’m excited that the kids got to come and play. That’s what vex and RECF can do. That’s what most organizations do. To expect RECF to go above and beyond what international norms are is unreasonable.


Regardless of that policy, we still all call it “Taiwan”. No one in the US ever says the words “Chinese Taipei” when referring to this place. Not even our president:

Somehow, our president calling it “Taiwan” has not caused an international incident. And there’s a good reason for him to call it “Taiwan”: so that people know what the heck he’s talking about. Which is also the very good reason that the Parade of Nations should call it “Taiwan,” because that’s what we all call it.

We also all call it “Germany” instead of Deutschland. And we all call it “Japan” instead of Nippon.

Separate from what’s offensive to Taiwanese people, deviating from the commonly used name is in fact actively wading into the complex politics and making an intentional statement, along with being confusing to everyone.

Calling it “Taiwan” makes no statement, and draws no attention, because that’s what we all call it.