- Weidian advises millions of merchants to stop using ‘Tibet’ in English product descriptions, or face removal
- Notice follows a foreign ministry readout which used ‘Xizang’ as the official Chinese translation for the autonomous region
A Chinese e-commerce service provider has advised its platform merchants to replace “Tibet” with “Xizang” – the Chinese pinyin version of the region – for product translations after Beijing signalled its language preference for the southwest region.
The order to overhaul the translations on all product names and descriptions appeared in a notice issued by the e-commerce platform Weidian on Wednesday.
Weidian, China’s version of Shopify, enables small and midsized entrepreneurs to set up online stores. According to its official website, Weidian operates more than 90 million online retail outlets with a trading volume of 100 billion yuan (US$13.7 billion).
The platform warned merchants their products would be removed if they displayed the word “Tibet”. No deadline for the transition was mentioned.
Internationally, the autonomous region is known as Tibet.
According to Beijing, the expression was suggested by the Dalai Lama in the 1980s to include the entire geographical area of the Tibet autonomous region, as well as parts of the provinces of Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu and Yunnan.
The Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 and remains the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet. Beijing has blamed him for unrest in Tibet since the late 1980s, and in 2008 called the Nobel Peace Prize laureate a “separatist” seeking independence for Tibet, a claim the Dalai Lama has denied.
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