Taiwan Rejects Olympic Goodwill out of Spite

The Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee (CTOC) described the relay plan as “an attempt by China to engineer the relay route so that Chinese Taipei is included in China’s domestic relay route… We resolutely reject this”.

Taiwan officials said they had informed Beijing earlier this week it would reject a place on the torch relay if the flame entered or exited the island via mainland China or Hong Kong and Macau, which are Chinese-controlled but semiautonomous.

As a compromise, the organisers, the Beijing Olympic organising committee (BOCOG), said the torch would pass from Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City to Taipei and then to Hong Kong.

In spite of this compromise by China, Taiwan Province decides to reject the Olympic Torch Relay hours after the routes were announced last week. Its comes as a surprise that this is the first time an National Olympic Committee (NOC) entity has openly rejected a planned torch relay, which is now considered one of the longest torch relays routes on record.

In Taiwan, the reversal may have come from President Chen Shui-bian, whose ruling Democratic Progressive Party is contesting legislative elections later this year.

“Chen seems to have concluded that thumbing his nose at Beijing was the best course of action to energize his party,” said Andrew Yang of the Taipei-based Chinese Council of Advanced Policy Studies.

China has pledged to take the torch through every part of the country, and skipping Taiwan would suggest the island is not part of China – which is the position of the self-governing island.

Jiang showed reporters several documents – agreements he said were signed by Tsai Chen-wei – head of the Taipei Olympic Committee, pledging Taiwan’s participation.

“We were surprised by their attitude and related comments,” Jiang said. “The Chinese nation has the fine tradition of living up to its promises.”

Jiang said the TOC agreed to be part of the route, with the torch arriving from Vietnam on April, 30, 2008, and going on to China-controlled Hong Kong and Macau.

That route goes against the position of Taiwan’s governing Democratic Progressive Party, which has pushed for a torch route that would reflect the island’s separateness from China, from which it split amid civil war in 1949.

The DPP’s preferred route would take the torch through Taiwan via two Asian nations other than China.

In a letter to Beijing organizers dated April 20, Tsai said: “My authorities request that the relay enter into Taipei and exit Taipei through third-party countries.”

Jiang said Tsai had broken an agreement to participate that he’d already signed and accused Taiwan officials of “breaching the principles of the separation of politics and sports enshrined in the Olympic charter.”

So there were negotiations to make sure Taiwan Province would participate in the torch relay with China even going out of the way to create a strange relay route just to meet some basic demands for that province. A mutual agreement was signed between representatives of their respective entities only to be politicised by the elected head of Taiwan Province, Chen Shuibian, whose party is up for elections in the legislature.

In any event, China has prepared to continue the relay with or without the province’s participation and claimed to continue negotiations to resolve this rejection before the torch makes it to East Asia in next year’s relay. It has been speculated that this rejection by Chen is not only a maneuver to shore up party support, but also to get China to give into the demands of a province of 23 million people.

President Chen Shui-bian told reporters on Friday that relevant authorities deemed the plan unacceptable because “Taiwan’s status as a sovereignty country cannot be dwarfed.”

“This is a rare opportunity to put Taipei and Taiwan in the international stage. We really regret losing this opportunity,” said Taipei mayor Hau Lung-bin from the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party.

“It shows the government has little confidence in itself. The Republic of China (Taiwan’s formal name) is a sovereign country and we need not be afraid of being belittled,” he added. KMT lawmaker Huang Chih-hsiung, a silver medalist in taekwondo at the 2004 Athens Olympics

“The government says time and again that it wants to return to the international arena but now is it going to resort to boycotting the Olympics to highlight Taiwan’s sovereignty?” the United Daily News said

It’s just sad to see such a positive and global event that occurs once every four years transformed into a political issue that is used for the benefit of Taiwan Province’s political parties. While it is true that this spat has brought Taiwan into the international stage, this is actually working against the province as much of the world is disgusted by the actions of the government, and it also once again reaffirm the CCP hardliners of the futility of having diplomatic exchanges with that province.

It’s one thing to reject the honour of carrying the torch around your region, but deciding to boycott the 2008 Olympics over a political issue also adds to the problem especially when the province has few significant allies.

The Liberty Times quoted Premier Su Tseng-chang telling parliament Saturday. ‘Taiwan’s sovereignty must not be downgraded. If China downgrades the Taiwan team’s status by calling it the “China-Taiwan” team, Taiwan will not attend the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games’”.

There are no winners in Taiwan’s decisions to politicise the Olympics in Beijing but only losers. Those that lose out the most are the Chinese Taipei athletes, with many who have never been to China, the local people who were deprived of opportunities to see an Olympic torch in their neighbourhoods, and it creates more negative sentiment towards Taiwan Province. The politicians also forget that although their economy is still relevant, they do not have the political power that comes close to the former Soviet Union and the United States, who were both able to persuade allies to boycott the Olympics in 1984 and 1980. Who will actually join Chinese Taipei if their government chooses to boycott the 2008 Olympics? Would Chinese Taipei be sorely missed in 2008 when the world at large has never recognized, granted, or acquiesced in Taiwan Province as a sovereign state?

Speaking of the economy, this seems to be one of the few things that keeps the province relevant in the world. However, this will soon change as substitutes are found in China and neighbouring countries, as less countries with diplomatic clout recognise the Republic of China and the provincial government’s ongoing stupidity will ruin them in the end. It doesn’t seem to be a bad idea to implement a boycott on all finished goods and services from Taiwan Province in light of their decision to piss and shit all over the Olympic Truce and International sportsmanship by rejecting the Olympic Torch relay out of spite and arrogance. We can all start by refraining from any investments in Taiwanese mutual funds, bonds, stocks, and ETFs and avoiding goods and services from the following companies – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Taiwanese_companies.

Some would say the boycott is futile seeing as most of Taiwanese goods are made in China, which would hurt the Chinese economy. However, there are many goods made in China in this day and age and I am proud to say that any finished goods produced by Japanese, European and even Korean companies are far superior than any brand or good coming from Taiwan Province. Then again, this boycott appears to be in effect long before this entry since I don’t see many kids using Acer computers, using Evergreen services, or trying to import unlocked BenQ mobile phones…

This is not only about Taiwan Province, but the fact they spat on the ancient Olympic Truce, rejecting a Torch Relay that was only given to a few IOC entities, the Province’s actions are disrespectful of global sportmanship and they brought about a bad taste to the Beijing Olympics. What the province has done has just gone too far by ruining a global celebration just for petty votes and bitter hatreds. It looks like Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s advice on transitional reconciliation fell completely on deaf ears in his visit to that province.


21 thoughts on “Taiwan Rejects Olympic Goodwill out of Spite

  1. it’s interesting how you added “province” at the end of every “taiwan.” i wonder if that’s common practice around the world =) we all know the relay route suggested by the CCP was politically motivated to begin with, so it shouldn’t be a surprise for the ROC government to reject the route due to political reasons in return.

    as for boycotting the olympics, nothing has been decided yet. plus, i doubt the beijing olympics committee has the authority to override the decision made by the IOC regarding the official name (Chinese Taipei) of the ROC national team. we shouldn’t jump to conclusions. with that said, what would be the point of participating in a major international sporting event if you can’t properly represent your nation and people? by entering the games as “China-Taipei,” the athletes presence would only feed into the CCP’s propaganda machine. when it comes to china and taiwan, nothing is ever “just sports,” “just business,” or “just anything,” anything and everything are politically charged.

  2. From your blog-

    “Chen Kuo-yi, secretary general of the Taiwan Olympic Committee, said Friday his group had told the Beijing Olympics Organizing Committee it would accept a route that moves the torch from one International Olympic Committee member, such as South Korea, through Taiwan to another IOC member, such as the Chinese territory of Hong Kong.

    In previous discussions, China has pressed for Taiwan to be treated as a domestic location rather than a foreign entity, and has tried to sandwich it between two Chinese areas…”

    The compromise was made and the agreements were signed with consent from the governments. In the end, Taiwan Province still rejects the route out of spite and to boost their support in upcoming elections. Turning an international event into a political for petty gains at the expense of the Olympic Truce and goodwill is just immature and excessive.

  3. during the unveiling of the torch relay route, the CCP disregarded the compromise agreed upon by the PRC, ROC, and the IOC and repeatedly referred to Taiwan as “China-Taipei.” according to IOC regulations, Taiwan should be referred to as “Chinese”-Taipei at all olympic-related events, which would include the torch relay. so now you tell me, which compromise was broken first?

  4. Could it be a mistranslation of Zhonghuataibei or was it really Zhongguotaibei? Then again, Taiwan is still known as the Republic of China – Zhonghuaminguo.

    So I have to wonder if it was really a mistranslation or if the Taiwanese authorities had no intention of being part of the relay but wanted a way to thumb its nose at the PRC.

    In the 2008 Torch Relay video it was made clear that Taiwan was in a unique position as a Chinese and English equivalent name alongside HK and Macau was given when it was announced while only Chinese cities were given Chinese pronunciations.

    It was also unhelpful that Chinese Taipei took the first shot at rejecting the torch relay before getting a clear idea of whether it was intentional or just a mistranslation of Zhonghuataibei. Until this mess is sort out, the world will look unfavourably at Taiwan Province and negotiators have a chance to patch things up before the relay reaches East Asia.

  5. it’s the beijing olympics buddy. the most extravagant and important international sporting event EVER in the history of mankind. keeping that in mind, do you honestly think the CCP made a “mistake” in this situation?

  6. of course Taiwan had the intention to be part of the relay, for it would have allowed it more exposure on the international arena. however, it still had to be extremely careful to avoid any situation that would diminish the island’s sovereignty on the world stage, no matter how insignificant. this has nothing to do with spite or TI, but more to do principles and dignity. no matter KMT or DDP, the decision would have been the same.

  7. Yup. Beijing politicized the Torch Relay, leaving Taiwan only a couple of choices, none very good.

    It looks like Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s advice on transitional reconciliation fell completely on deaf ears in his visit to that province.

    Tutu was discussing how to deal with the postcolonial period and the transition to democracy on Taiwan, not on the island’s external relations. The situation when South African’s white population lost power is quite similar to the situation when Taiwan’s mainlander elites had to democratize. Taiwan’s current dilemma resembles many postcolonial/authoritarian nations around the world.

    It’s just sad to see such a positive and global event that occurs once every four years transformed into a political issue that is used for the benefit of Taiwan Province’s political parties.

    Again, the torch was politicized by Beijing with its claim that the route through Taipei was a domestic route. That is obviously not the case, and Taiwan naturally rejected it. If Beijing had simply dealt in good faith and picked a nuetral position, then Taiwan would have been fine with it.


  8. The vast majority of countries in the world recognize the One China policy. I think it is something like 170 to 23, and of those 24 countries that recognize Taiwan’s sovereignty; they are relatively insignificant countries, which make China’s leverage over Taiwan even greater than a supermajority. Taiwan can claim sovereignty, but the fact is, a supermajority of countries in the world resolutely don’t recognize such claims, as the Taiwanese delegation has tried and failed 14 consecutive times to get recognition as a de jure independent country by the UN. I’m not saying UN recognition is the litmus test for de jure sovereignty, but in the absence of something better that can match or surpass the international legitimacy of the UN, I’ll go with that for now.

    As far as the route, China is the host country, and it should plan the route. I’ve never heard of a host country deferring its plans to a province or state of the host country to make decisions. That would be like Hawaii demanding the US mainland customize the torch route to appease it, as a condition for its participation. That’s laughable as it is like saying that states or province rights trump or is on par with Federal or sovereign country rights.

    CSB should just use this valuable opportunity to showcase the torch run thru Taiwan province, and be happy to get some international press. Unfortunately, countries have used the Olympics to send political message far before China. (See US and USSR boycott of past Olympics) It’s naïve and unrealistic to expect the Olympics is politics free. In an idealistic world, perhaps!

  9. JR, amusing perspectives. following your definition of sovereignty, it seems like the PRC became a sovereign nation in 1972 instead of 1949. you should probably have the CCP revise their textbooks asap~

    although the PRC is the host country, decisions such as torch route, official names, and other decisions that affect other participating countries still have to go through the IOC.

    your Hawaii/US analogy is pretty intriguing. you’re right, Hawaii (a state) MUST follow the decisions of the US federal government. but the matter of FACT is, Taiwan already flat our rejected Beijing’s torch route and there’s absolutely NOTHING the PRC can do about it. pretty interesting eh? makes you wonder if the Hawaii/US relationship actually applies to Taiwan/PRC.

  10. I am not a citizen of Taiwan, but I am very proud of Taiwan and their decision. The world needs to start recognizing that Taiwan is its own country. It is just disappointing how the world ignores Taiwan’s pleas for proper recognition.

    Hawaii is a US State, so there is no comparison about relationships.

    And since when is Taiwan known as a province?

  11. Taiwan Province, Republic of China (no longer recognised)

    Taiwan Province, People’s Republic of China (Recognised by the United Nations and most of the world)

  12. You can keep living this delusion, but the reality is much different with Abian out to dismantle the “ROC” and with the world working with the PRC

  13. how exactly is the world working w/ the PRC? by stating on pieces of paper that they “acknowledge” the PRC’s “claim” to Taiwan? even so, does that mean they recognize the PRC’s authority over Taiwan? of course not. the last time i checked, the PRC’s administrative powers does not extend to Taiwan and never did. there are only two supported perspectives, 1. Taiwan is the ROC or 2. Taiwan is part of the ROC, both of which are more reflective of REALITY than the PRC’s claim. you’re entitled to believe whatever want. but remember, no matter how you twist and turn this argument, the only thing the PRC has is its “claim,” nothing more.

  14. Legal recognition holds weight if it is supported by the bulk of the international community. It is true Taiwan still runs on the ROC Constitution, but that won’t be for long if Chen Abian gets his way

  15. xtaike:

    I was not attempting to define sovereignty. Taiwan can claim many things, but when the vast majority in the world doesn’t recognize its self-proclaimed sovereignty, then it is but a specious claim. The Taiwanese delegation has tried and failed 14 consecutive times to gain UN recognition as a de jure sovereign nation. Obviously, Taiwan feels it is important to achieve UN recognition or they wouldn’t be trying 14 times, and failing. No major country has endorsed de jure independence for Taiwan, since these same countries are smart enough not to alienate China. Even USA has to support the One China policy, because it needs China to continue financing its huge debts and deficits. USA has about $9 trillion in current debts, and estimated $45-70 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities. Another words, China’s financial leverage is growing, as Taiwan’s leverage is diminishing. Given the current trend, Taiwan can forget de jure independence as it will be lucky just to maintain Status Quo.

    The IOC works together with the host country to plan the Olympics. Taiwan has no standing to dictate the route. They can choose to not participate, and quite frankly, I preferred they don’t. It’s not a big deal whether Taiwan participates in the torch run or not. If you look at the route, it’s not like the torch run will hit every single city or province in China, anyway. This is much to do, about nothing.

    Some people in USA feel Taiwan should determine its own future. Yet these same people forget how Hawaii was annexed from the native people, or how parts of America was annexed from the native American Indians, Mexicans, and other original settlers. Selective support for self-determination is what undermines USA’s credibility, since all you have to do is honestly look at US domestic and foreign policies, both past and present, to see the hypocrisy.

  16. xtaike:

    China has more than just a claim. It has real leverage over Taiwan. 170 countries out of almost 200 countries not only support the One China Policy, but also back up that support at the UN. Notice the last 14 failures by the Taiwanese delegation to try and change Status Quo. If it was only a Chinese claim, then there is no need for any country to support the One China Policy. But since many of these countries understand China has leverage, understand that China has almost 50% of GDP is savings (ready to consume, as many countries are itching to get a piece of that domestic consumption) and understand that China has over 1 trillion is reserves (most in the world), these countries just made a practical decision to support One China. That’s reality, as Taiwan must learn to live with it. Lamenting reality doesn’t change it.

  17. You’re right xtaike, lamenting reality won’t change it: action will.

    Since Taiwan was never part of China — its lowland areas on the west coast were incorporated into the Qing empire, but the Qings were Manchu invaders — no Chinese emperor ever controlled the island — comparisons with Hawaii are exactly right. China annexing Taiwan is exactly like the US annexing Hawaii. Which is why all men of goodwill should oppose it.


  18. Michael:

    Action? What action? Be specific and realistic!

    It’s more than just annexing Hawaii, it’s also annexing a large portion of what is commonly called USA, from the native American Indians, the Mexicans, and other indigenous people. Some Americans hypocritically criticize China’s handling of Taiwan province. Yet, these are the same Americans who really need to look in the mirror to see hypocrite personified. When we also look at US foreign policies, both past and present, it really isn’t about exporting Democracy and supporting Democratic principles around the world. USA will support, and have supported Monarchies, Dictatorships, Oligarchies, Theocracies, etc. when it serves self-interest.

    USA and Taiwan has no leverage to take action to change Status Quo. 14 consecutive failures affirmed that fact. Taiwan: Get uses to it. While I don’t support de jure independence for Taiwan, I also don’t support force unification. Status Quo is appropriate. But given the political and economic leverage China has over Taiwan, with leverage growing daily, I do see a day where there is peaceful unification (as the political ideological gap shrinks, as the economic and trade cooperation increases.

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