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.