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Stop fighting over the flag, cheer for Taiwan's athletes

Publication Date : 06-08-2012


The ongoing heated competition at the London Olympics has caught the attention of many Taiwanese, all eager to watch the spirited performances of both local athletes and those from around the world.

Unfortunately, the sporting event has been marred by political controversies even before it officially kicked off last week.

Before the games started, organisers removed Taiwan's national flag from Regent Street in London — reportedly due to Chinese pressure. Originally displayed among other national flags, the ROC flag was replaced with the Chinese Taipei Olympic version.

The removal of the national flag of the Republic of China, Taiwan's official name, and its replacement with that of Chinese Taipei, a name Taiwanese teams have used to compete in the competition since 1984, immediately drew an angry response from both nationals in both Taiwan and the United Kingdom.

As a way to protest Beijing's relentless suppression of Taiwan's bids for international space, overseas Taiwanese have formed parades to march through London streets while holding the ROC flag, a creative way to bring the missing national colours back to London.

Compared with the heartfelt imaginativeness shown by expatriates in London, here in Taiwan the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) and main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) were again caught in meaningless political mudslinging.

The DPP blasted the ruling administration for failing to take a tougher stance and not lodging a stronger protest over the flag's disappearance, while the KMT called on the pro-Taiwan independence DPP to show some “real” respect for the ROC flag.

The incident has once again reminded us of the sad international reality that the world, cowed by Chinese pressure, continues to ignore the island-nation's existence.

It also reminds us that despite the KMT's numerous claims that cross-strait relations have been warming up over the past four years since President Ma Ying-jeou took office, Beijing has not given up its decades-long suppression of Taiwan in the global arena.

It is true that the KMT has failed to take a tougher stance regarding the flag's removal, as alleged by the DPP. In fact, the opposition has every reason to criticise the government over the incident, which has hurt the feelings of Taiwanese and compromised our national dignity.

Taiwan did indeed agree to use a separate flag in the Olympic Games in accordance with a deal reached with the International Olympic Committee (IOC). But this agreement does not prevent Taiwan from using its national flag on any occasion outside official events.

But at the same time, the DPP, accusing the Ma administration of failing to defend the ROC flag, was apparently contradicting itself.

The opposition party, which has ostensibly urged people to “fight for the dignity of the national flag” because it is “the emblem of the country,” has in fact shown little respect to the national flag, given that the ROC emblem has never been displayed at any social events organised by the DPP — and not even inside the DPP headquarters.

But let's all call a halt to meaningless finger-pointing within the country because it does absolutely nothing to help change the situation.

We should instead shift the focus back to the Olympic Games, which is all about sports and not politics.

The efforts of our Olympians are what matter most. It is only through great performances on the Olympic stage that people around the world will appreciate Taiwanese athletes and ultimately the island-nation itself.

It would be meaningless for our national team to play under the ROC name if it cannot give a good performance.

After all, the very reason we first accepted the name Chinese Taipei and adopted a new flag and anthem was to continue participating in the games, so that our nation's top athletes could shine on the world stage.

So let the hollow politics stop and let us all sit down together to cheer for our heroes and wish them the best of luck in gaining glory for themselves and our nation.


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