LA Rams’ marketing plan for China disrupts local Taiwanese Americans

Taiwanese immigrant Paul Chen is quite used to companies that treat his home country as part of China. While Chen, not to mention most of the islanders, sees Taiwan as an autonomous democracy independent of China, the mainland treats it as a renegade province – and most brands have aligned themselves to enter one of the most lucrative markets. of the world.

Those deemed not to have recognized the “One China” policy have been forced to apologize to Chinese consumers because luxury brands Coach and Givenchy made t-shirt designs who indicated that Taiwan is a country.

Professional wrestler and actor John Cena on several occasions Mea Culpa To Chinese Fans In Mandarin for referring to Taiwan as a country while promoting the latest movie “Fast and Furious” earlier this year.

But Chen, who runs the Taiwan Center Foundation in Rosemead, felt particular pain when his local football team appeared to bow to China’s claim that Taiwan is not a sovereign state.

The NFL announced this month he gave the LA Rams exclusive marketing rights in China and Australia, while other teams were assigned smaller international markets or had to share countries.

The new strategy came with a map that shaded China in red – and Taiwan with it.

“We expect the Rams organization to know better,” Chen said, noting that SoCal’s Taiwanese diaspora is the largest in the country, estimated at at least a quarter of a million people. (Nationally, the estimate may hover around 700,000.)

Chen said he and other Taiwanese US organizations are calling on the NFL to apologize for “this oversight or mistake” and revise its marketing map accordingly.

“We grew up knowing that Taiwan was never under the rule of Communist China,” said Chen, who emigrated from Taiwan to Southern California when he was in college. “So all of this needs to be cleared up. “

What is the position of the US government on all of this? It shares “strong and informal relations” with Taiwan and supports it militarily, but says it does not support its independence.

Those who support Taiwan’s independence say the island is not only politically, but also culturally, distinct from China. And, in practice, marketing doesn’t make sense because Taiwan uses traditional characters while simplified writing is the norm in China, Chen said.

The Taiwan-China controversy recently rocked the sports world, as tensions have mounted in the Taiwan Strait.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen thanked the Boston Celtics’ Enes Kanter Freedom After the center, a vocal critic of human rights violations in China and his native Turkey, said in a music video that “Taiwan is not part of China.” Freedom also has blasted former NBA player Jeremy Lin for playing in the Chinese Basketball Association and said he should “stay with Taiwan!” “

Then there is the long-standing controversy that Taiwanese athletes are only allowed to compete under the banner of Chinese Taipei. Broadcasters have won China’s wrath after calling the team in Taiwan during last summer’s games in Tokyo.

Taiwanese American football fan Ken Wu showed dismay at the NFL’s marketing card by bringing a sign to a recent game

Chen said Taiwanese Americans unhappy with the NFL card have had their say and have not called for a boycott of the league or the Rams.

But that doesn’t mean they’ll stop making their grievances known. During a Seattle Seahawks-Rams game on December 21 at SoFi Stadium, Taiwanese American football fan Ken Wu held up a sign reproducing the NFL card with the additional abbreviation of “WTF.”

Neither the NFL nor the Rams responded to requests for comment.

Have a question about Asian American communities in Southern California?

Josie Huang reports on the intersection of being Asian and American and the impact of these growing communities in Southern California.

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