Members of the Taiwanese community in Canada have recently made complaints to Cooper that they were forced to indicate “Taiwan, Province of China” when specifying their nationality in applications to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP).
The label is in line with Beijing’s “One China policy,” which—unlike the version adopted by Canada and other Western democracies—indicates that Taiwan is part of the communist-controlled territory of mainland China, despite the regime never having ruled the self-governing island.
“It would be nice if it was simply a matter of being misinformed about Canada’s One China policy, in which case the response would be to correct the mislabelling of Taiwan,” Cooper said. “But with regards to an institution like the CIHR that has been aware of this problem for the last several years, the only reasonable explanation is that they are influenced by the Chinese communist regime and Chinese communist interference.”
On Nov. 18, Cooper sent a letter to CIHR president Michael Strong asking him to address the complaint made by a Taiwanese scholar about the agency’s mislabelling of Taiwan.
“Canada’s One China policy has never accepted Beijing’s contention that Taiwan is part of the People’s Republic of China [PRC],” Cooper told The Epoch Times, adding that the 1970 Joint Communique that sets out Canada’s One China policy indicates that it “merely takes note” of Beijing’s claim over Taiwan, which is “substantially different than endorsing Beijing’s contention.”
“This is a completely unacceptable situation. And it is not a new situation. Basically, the CIHR is fully aware of the problem,” he said.
Canadian institutions must not be complicit in the Chinese Communist regime’s campaign of aggression and their systematic effort to delegitimize sovereign and democratic Taiwan.
The @CIHR_IRSC must correct it’s mislabeling of #Taiwan pic.twitter.com/W2P9jPOUVH
— Michael Cooper, MP (@Cooper4SAE) November 18, 2021
According to Cooper, this issue has been brought to the CIHR’s attention many times by other members of Parliament, including Liberal MP Judy Sgro and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Canada—Taiwan’s de facto embassy.
In an email statement to The Epoch Times, the CIHR said it is aware of the concern regarding the classification of Taiwan in the Canadian Common CV (CCV)—the platform researchers use to enter their CV data when they apply for a grant.
“Currently, CIHR’s systems, such as the CCV, adhere to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) country list, which is recognized by the Government of Canada through Canada’s national accreditation body, the Standards Council of Canada,” CIHR spokesperson David Coulombe said.
“We will continue discussions on this matter with Global Affairs Canada and other federal stakeholders to ensure consistency both with foreign policy and with government-wide data standards.”
Cooper said he can’t speculate why the CIHR insisted on following the ISO country code, when several Canadian universities and government agencies, like the Social Science and Humanities Research Council, have corrected this mislabelling.
“In failing to address this and in continuing to mislabel Taiwan, the CIHR, wittingly or unwittingly, is complicit in the Chinese communist regime’s efforts to delegitimize Taiwan,” he said.
Cooper said he has yet to hear back from the CIHR since sending the letter to Strong, but he will continue to press the CIHR for a response and raise the issue publicly, including reintroducing to the House of Commons a private member’s bill that aims to provide a framework to strengthen Canada-Taiwan relations.
He said he is drafting an update to Bill C-315, which he tabled in the last parliamentary session, to include a provision that would ban Canadian government departments or institutions from formally or informally recognizing the Chinese communist regime’s claims of sovereignty over Taiwan.
‘Taiwan is Free and Sovereign’
A Taiwanese candidate of CELPIP—an English language assessment test administered by Paragon Testing Enterprises—complained about being forced to indicate his nationality as from the PRC.
On Dec. 3, the Conservative MP wrote a letter to Michael Holaday, vice president of Paragon Testing Enterprise, urging him to update the organization’s system to allow Taiwanese candidates to “properly indicate their country of origin as Taiwan.”
Canada cannot fully support #Taiwan on the world stage until we recognize it at home. It’s time for Canadian institutions & corporations to stop calling Taiwan a province of China. pic.twitter.com/zkzTKlcoHu
— Michael Cooper, MP (@Cooper4SAE) December 3, 2021
“This is problematic,” Cooper wrote. “Taiwan is objectively not part of the People’s Republic of China. Taiwan is free and sovereign with a distinct and substantial territory, a distinct and substantial population, and a democratic government that exercises control over Taiwanese territory.”
“Whatever their motivation is, what they need to do is properly label Taiwan as ‘Taiwan’ and bring themselves into compliance with Canadian foreign policy and Canada’s One China policy, which are clearly violated,” he said.
Cooper also made clear that in his criticism of the Chinese communist regime, he is not targeting the Chinese people.
“I do believe it is important to make that distinction as I always have,” he said. “I have always been specific in regards to the Chinese communist regime, not the Chinese people.”