Friday, July 17, 2009

China Boycotts Opening Ceremony at Which Ma Appears as Prez

Luckily for the world, China does not play politics with sports. Otherwise the Chinese delegation might have boycotted the World Games Opening Ceremony in Kaohsiung today....

...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 saved us was elected.

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?

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.
Max Hirsch of Kyodo describes the (non) event....
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).

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.
From an earlier article:
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.

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.
Nice reworking of the Formula describing Taiwan's (n0n)-relationship to China there, Max. At Global Post John Adams described:
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).

That's the result of a compromise struck to allow Taiwan to participate in global sports events.
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....

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

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22 comments:

Craig Ferguson said...

Random, slightly related trivia. This is the first time in World Games history that a president/head of state has presided over the opening. SOP is for the head of the World Games governing body to do it.

Tim Maddog said...

Look what Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) said in yesterday's China Post:
- - -
Meanwhile, ruling Kuomintang Legislator Wu Yu-sheng said that to the best of his knowledge, China's decision to have its athletes skip the opening ceremony was the result of a brainstorming session between the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee and Chinese authorities.

"The two sides discussed the issue frankly and sincerely before reaching that decision, " Wu said, adding that he fully supports the arrangement.

"It's a wise, goodwill decision that will contribute to harmony and the development of relations between our two sides," Wu said.
- - -

You read that right -- a KMT legislator is vocally supporting the boycott!

Tim Maddog

Dixteel said...

I am wondering why DPP put much effort in inviting Ma to the ceremony. They should have a legitimate reason behind it as well...or do they? :-o

Anonymous said...

I am going to state it again:

I am really disappointed that, under Ma's China policy, Taiwan has been reduced to negotiation around China's "anger".

This is all stage managed and the "anger" card is a charade to preclude action or inaction.

At least under Chen Shui-bian, China's "anger" was a given that was left to China to remedy.

Readin said...

Half the battle for Taiwan remaining free is for Taiwanese not to forget that they are free - and to remind them of how little China respects such freedom. You say "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". I think it does cost him something. Expressions of nationalism tend to reinforce nationalism, and Ma's appearance at the games helped give rise to expressions of Taiwanese nationalism and re-exposed China's attitude. This will make it harder for Ma to sell Taiwan to China.

Dezhong said...

I think it's also interesting to note that Ma was addressed as "President of the Republic of China" during the opening ceremony. That surely would have been too much for any Chinese delegation. You know, reality.

What I just don't get is why are Taiwanese so nicely playing by the rules. I mean what could have possibly happened, if at the last moment someone exchanged that denigrating moniker "Chinese Taipei" with the word "Taiwan"?

Would an outraged Ma Ying-jeou have left the stadium?

FOARP said...

Typical thin-skinned ass-covering communists. They'll probably try to claim this one as a display of principle.

Now if only there was a super-market chain I could boycott . . .

amtai said...

"President" Ma must be laughing up hi emperor's imperial sleeve at this point, thinking he has put another one over on the clueless public he hopes to deceive.

It all hangs on now how long intelligent people remain clueless.

The hope now is that a single person lights the candle of another,and another, until the truth of the dawn's sun shines clearly on this beautiful island.

One person to another will create a just dawn that must arrive on this land.

Anonymous said...

But the KMT is selling this as China's and Taiwan's relations have reached a high point! They are saying the China, by BOYCOTTING the opening, is showing FRIENDLINESS to Taiwan. Can we say DOUBLESPEAK?!?!?!?! So I'm guessing, by their logic, attending would mean a big humiliation for Ma Ying-jeou. Yes... excuse me while I bask in China's love for Taiwan...

Stefan said...

What's the actual effect though? Do Taiwanese view him as a defender of Taiwanese independence because of this, or do they view him as a lapdog who just got kicked by his masters?

big hairy dic said...

Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee--

gosh, i am still loling my arse off.. its like Lady Gaga singing about big breasted womens..

Chinese just ignored them completly and they still calling themselfes by this horrific name.

@Readin

--Expressions of nationalism tend to reinforce nationalism, and Ma's appearance at the games helped give rise to expressions of Taiwanese nationalism and re-exposed China's attitude. This will make it harder for Ma to sell Taiwan to China.---

LOL..

Ma is CHINESE NATIONALIST. not taiwanese. get it in your brain already!

@Dezhong

--What I just don't get is why are Taiwanese so nicely playing by the rules.---

1: KMT was never playing by rules.
2: taiwanese can do nothing because
a) chinese can hurt their economy very hard (all chinese nationalist fault to bound it to own enemy)
b)USA will stand up and say "you bad, bad kitty! why dont you lick your future masters foots!?"

@FOARP
--Typical thin-skinned ass-covering communists. They'll probably try to claim this one as a display of principle. --

thats how interational relationships do working my best..

@anon

--So I'm guessing, by their logic, attending would mean a big humiliation for Ma Ying-jeou. Yes... excuse me while I bask in China's love for Taiwan...--

chinese just reminded this loser of ocupant that even all his money and "family friends" with deep relationship into the bejings CCP mafia clan will change his position about the being a successor of chinese citizen war loser.

Sean Reilly said...

The original idea was for all the Chinese athletes to attend the opening ceremony, but too hold their breath for the whole thing.

They just couldn't get it to work in rehearsal.

In the end they had to settle for the second-most childish response to this brazen daylight attack on their divine sovereignty.

Michael Turton said...

ROFL to all the wonderful comments here.

not_sure said...

@Tmaddog - I read that as well and thought, what a jackass. It's just makes you wonder why the Taiwanese people put up with this sellout.

Another doofus statement was from the World Games guy. In his introduction he said something like...blah blah [b]The Government of Taipei and the City of Kaoshiung[/b] did an excellent job blah, blah blah.

not_sure said...

Did anyone see the shortlist of sports the PRC athletes are participating in:

1. The 1000 RMB guanxi handoff

2. The Uigur/Tibetean target sharpshooting competition

3. The reverse engineer and copy steal.

4. The phlegm spittle

5. The heavenly buttream (LeinChan position)

6. The inflate the stockmarket bubble blow

7. The who can speak loudest in small space competition

8. The nosepick and earwax dig marathon

Richard said...

I thought I read that the ROC Flag would be allowed to be flown in the stadiums?

Anonymous said...

Why would the PRC send a delegation to a "regional" game. Had the PRC participated they would have legitimized Taiwanese sovereignty over the island. The boycott allows the PRC to continue to deny Taiwan's sovereignty.

Thomas said...

"Why would the PRC send a delegation to a "regional" game. Had the PRC participated they would have legitimized Taiwanese sovereignty over the island. The boycott allows the PRC to continue to deny Taiwan's sovereignty."

Yet they did participate in the games. Why not just boycott the whole event? And they still look like hypocrites after all the hooplah over separating sports and politics before the Olympics.

Hans said...

The majority of the audience probably didn't notice it, but I was right there in the arena when Ron the president mentioned "Chinese Taipei" and Government and Taipei and city of Kaohsiung. It was very unsettling. I served as a attending volunteer for the event and on my badge it printe "TPE," while I've never spent more than 1 week consecutively in Taipei my whole life. A few athletes have raised the question to me and I was glad to explain the origin of this pathetic name with them. What was really sad for me was to see the Taiwanese crowd embracing the "Chinese Taipei" name like it's their precious gem. I felt better after finding out that majority of them identify themselves as Taiwanese, and the Chinese Taipei chant was merely for the cheers with little understanding of what it represents. I wonder how comfortable they are if they found out what's it means and the history of it.

By the way, the number of sports should be 31, as the slogan of WG is "30+ games at their best."

Anonymous said...

Oh, I'm sure Mr. Ma understands how the Chinese felt about it and realizes they had no choice but to boycott.

Tim Maddog said...

@Richard: It most certainly was allowed in. Yang Hui-ju mentioned on tonight's Talking Show (大話新聞) that she brought one to the main stadium for the opening ceremony, and I got three screenshots of flags earlier this evening: 1, 2, 3.

While I don't think that flag is appropriate for Taiwan, the behavior of the organizers is infinitely more democratic than that of Ma Ying-jeou. Remember how he dealt with such things:
- - -
At two international sporting events held recently in Taipei (the Asian Short Track Speed Skating championship and the Sixth Asian Youth Judo Championship), the ROC flag (which I consider to be the flag of an occupying power rather than the "real" Taiwan flag) was replaced by the Olympic flag of Chinese Taipei which, due to Chinese pressure, has been flown at the Olympics since 1984. (Being mostly white, it also looks way too much like a surrender flag.)
- - -

Tim Maddog

big hairy dic said...

The show was designed to highlight Taiwan's reputation as a "butterfly Kingdom" and to show the richness and variety of ocean life around its shores. The Dawu tribesmen carried their traditional canoes onto the stages.

Taiwan invested more than US$220 million dollars into the Games. Many people see the games as an opportunity to stretch the limits of the island's international isolation since only 23 countries currently recognize Taiwan as a nation.

The quadrennial games feature 31 sports not included in the Olympic Games, such like airsports
(parachuting and sky diving), archery, billiards, canoe polo, sumo and dance.

http://scdaily.com/notice/notice_072009_e.htm