...oh wait. They did boycott the opening ceremony....
Boycotts during international sporting events are an old Chinese habit -- see the 1956 Olympics (boycotted because Taiwan competed under the name "Formosa") and the 1976 Olympics (boycotted in confused temper tantrum). Today's boycott was interesting because its context was the "improved relations" and "lowered tensions" in the Taiwan-China relationship since Ma
Mercury News' John Ryan noted:
Remember that beautiful display at last summer's Olympics? Remember how China was able to influence nations, including the United States, to ignore its human-rights abuses and embrace this global celebration? Remember the glorious togetherness of setting aside differences for the pure joy of sporting competition and artificial singing?Max Hirsch of Kyodo describes the (non) event....
Yeah. That is so 2008.
Thursday morning in Taiwan, the 100-person Chinese delegation boycotted the opening ceremonies of the World Games, a 21-sport competition of non-Olympic sports such as sumo and rugby. According to the Associated Press, the move was seen as a rebuke of Taiwan's president, Ma Ying-jeou, who presided over the ceremonies. In his 14 months, Ma has worked to improve relations with the mainland instead of fighting for Taiwan's independence; China, which has not recognized Taiwan's sovereignty since the 1949 split, apparently believed attending the ceremony would legitimize Ma as president.
Some 70 Chinese athletes are scheduled to compete in eight events at the games to be held through July 26 in Kaohsiung, including sumo wrestling, water skiing and martial arts, according to Taiwan's government-funded Central News Agency (CNA).From an earlier article:
However, none of them had registered by Thursday despite their arrival this week in this southern port city, according to the Cabinet-level Sports Affairs Council.
During the ceremony's introduction of countries and athletes, just one person held the Chinese flag when China was announced, while the majority of other national teams were represented by teams of athletes.
The single flag-bearer for China, who appeared to be a local Games staffer, was met with a mixed reaction of boos and cheers from a packed stadium of some 50,000 spectators.
Indeed, the Chinese teams plan to skip the ceremony in a decision that was reached between them and Taiwan's official Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee, said Wu Yu-sheng, a prominent lawmaker, according to CNA.Nice reworking of the Formula describing Taiwan's (n0n)-relationship to China there, Max. At Global Post John Adams described:
For China, the opening ceremony is controversial, as Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou plans to preside over the event in his capacity as president, while the island's national flag will likely be prominently displayed -- reminders of the island's de facto sovereignty.
China claims Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting unification, while the self-ruled island insists on safeguarding its independence from the mainland.
Due to China's sensitivities, Taiwanese athletes must also compete as "Chinese Taipei", under a special flag – even though they're on their own soil (Taiwan is not allowed to fly its national flag at World Games venues).It's easy to see why Ma has poo-poohed claims that his unopposed run for KMT Chairman is meant to give him a grand enough title to enable him to meet with Hu Jintao of China. If China cannot even bring itself to attend a minor ceremony like this because Ma is attending in his capacity as President, how would they address him in China if he met Hu? I mean besides Humble Petitioner Before The Imperial Throne....
That's the result of a compromise struck to allow Taiwan to participate in global sports events.
This little bit of political theatre that China is engaging in may well be staged for Ma's benefit. After all, Ma's unopposed "election" for KMT Chairman is really an assessment of his support in the party rank and file, among other things. By showing up in his formal role as ROC President at a meaningless minor international sports fete, where China refuses to show because it is "angry", Ma gets to look like he is standing up for sovereignty in a way that costs him nothing serious with China but plays very well among local voters -- and elections, both his own Chairmanship "race" and local city/county elections, are only a few months away.
It will also help mitigate the image at home and abroad that Ma has of being Beijing's tool. "See? Beijing is peeved at him! That shows that he and Beijing are not in bed together." Whether or not Ma has Beijing's active help, it's a useful bit of political theatre for him that costs him nothing and reaps concrete benefits.
REF: China's Foreign Policy In Sport
[Taiwan] Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!