28 January 2019
The IELTS Global Partnership
10 Spring Gardens
London SW1A 2BN
Dear IELTS Global Partnership,
We are writing to you regarding your recent decision in October to change the designation of Taiwan on your website from ‘Taiwan’ to ‘Taiwan, China’. We are surprised to learn of your decision, as the designation ‘Taiwan, China’ is not only erroneous but also contrary to UK Government policy, and therefore request immediate correction to ‘Taiwan’.
Your changed designation is inaccurate and misleading as Taiwan has never been a part of the People’s Republic of China. It is also contrary to the UK Government’s longstanding policy to refer to Taiwan as simply ‘Taiwan’, as Mark Field, Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific at the Foreign Commonwealth Office, publicly stated on 10 July. The reason for your decision therefore remains puzzling, as it is neither based on fact nor is it in line with the UK’s official position.
The change has resulted in great confusion and protest among Taiwanese people and the IELTS community. Many Taiwanese students and professionals who take the IELTS feel their rights and nationality are being sacrificed.
The decision follows pressure from China and is based on commercial interest. Although IELTS is a private enterprise, it should not have the terms of its business dictated by a foreign government. Succumbing to this political pressure undermines our democratic principles and harms the free operations of international business.
UK-Taiwanese educational relations are steadily increasing, with approximately 12,000 Taiwanese studying in the UK as of 2017. For many Taiwanese students and professionals, taking the IELTS is an essential stepping stone to study and work in the UK. If IELTS were to change the designation to ‘Taiwan’, it may well allow the UK to continue increasing its educational exchanges with Taiwan.
We urge you to reconsider your decision and amend the IELTS website to the previous and proper designation of simply ‘Taiwan’.
Nigel Evans MP Lord Rogan
Co-Chairs of British-Taiwanese All-Party Parliamentary Group
Baroness Anelay of St Johns
Sir David Amess MP
1. Rt Hon Mark Field MP, Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office
2. Sir Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive, British Council