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, China treats it as a renegade province – and most brands have lined up to enter one of the world’s most lucrative markets.
Those deemed not to have recognized the “One China” policy were forced to apologize to Chinese consumers, as luxury brands Coach and Givenchy made t-shirt designs who indicated that Taiwan is a country.
Repeatedly pro-wrestler and actor John Cena 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 people the Rams organization will 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. “
Chen said Taiwan is not only politically, but also culturally, distinct from China. And in practice, marketing to both doesn’t make sense because Taiwan uses traditional characters while simplified writing is the norm in China, Chen said.
The Taiwan-China controversy is increasingly bubbling up in American sports, 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!” “
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 recent Rams game 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 a request for comment.
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Josie Huang reports on the intersection of being Asian and American and the impact of these growing communities in Southern California.