Students from the Chinese delegation at the Harvard Model United Nations event in January were kicked out by organisers, after they saw Taiwan listed as a country rather than region and demanded it be changed, Shanghaiist reported Tuesday.
The angered participants wanted the conference handbook, which included Taiwan as a separate country, to be changed to “country or region” in order to accommodate Taiwan. One Chinese teacher left the conference in protest, the Global Times reported. The disagreement escalated to the point where organisers removed several students and threatened to call the police.
China and Taiwan split after civil war in 1949, but China still considers Taiwan part of its territory and has even threatened to use force if it moves closer to independence. However, very few Taiwanese citizens consider themselves a part of China or support any sort of reunification.
In response to the Chinese delegation, the event Secretary-General Ruth Kagen said in an email, “Harvard Model United Nations publishes in its conference handbook the country of origin as reported by each delegation without modification. The inclusion of Taiwan is not meant as a political statement, nor does that listing represent the views of the Harvard International Relations Council.”
Kagen said the handbook couldn’t be altered at this point, but Chinese students were offered their own “by country and region” stickers to add to their own handbooks. However, this wasn’t enough to appease the offended students.
Students told the Global Times that at a previous Harvard Model United Nations event, Taiwan was not listed as a country, but they have seen Taiwan and Hong Kong listed as their own countries at other Model UN events.
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