Albania, China, and Taiwan: a history of tangled relations

The following article appeared on the New Lens’ website today.

Albanian perceptions of Taiwan, where they exist, are hazy. Parku Rinia (Youth Park) in downtown Tirana is a testament to this. Close to Skanderbeg Square – with its equestrian monument to the Albanian national hero – this green space in downtown Tirana is labeled “Taiwan Park” in online maps. The bridge over the Lana River that leads there shows up as “Taiwan Bridge,” and a pond at the park’s southwestern corner is similarly tagged “Taiwan Pool.”

Several sources trace the nomenclature to an early period of friendly relations between Taipei and Tirana, but this can’t be right. The park was built in 1949, just as Albania was switching recognition from the Republic of China (ROC) to the newly declared People’s Republic (PRC).

Another claim is that the park was named after the supposedly Taiwan-shaped pond, but this is also dismissed as fancy by the Albanians I spoke to during a visit to Tirana this summer.

“It’s not actually the name of the park, but the casino, shopping, and restaurant complex there [now officially known as the Regency Casino],” says Leftion Peristeri, a producer and presenter with TV Klan, an Albanian television channel and media group. “When Tirana broke [trade and cultural] relations with Beijing [in 1979], they changed the name to make the Chinese angry.”

To read the full article, click here.

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