Sunday, July 06, 2008

Playing Politics with the Olympics: Taiwan vs. China

Ed Wong of the NY Times offers a fairly good discussion of the Taiwan-China Olympic relationship in the NY Times that highlights many of the stupidities that result from China's politicization of the Olympics. To wit:
Sports announcers in China often use the name Zhongguo Taipei when talking about Taiwanese athletes, and signs at sports events on the mainland display that name.

“I’ve been to competitions in China where a few referees say, ‘You’re Zhongguo Taipei,’ ” said Mr. Chang, the table tennis player. “We say, ‘No, we’re Zhonghua Taipei. They say, ‘Why?’ Sometimes the mainland athletes also joke about that.”

Tsai Chen-wei, president of the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee, said he would complain to the International Olympic Committee if mainland officials insisted on calling the Taiwanese delegation by the wrong name. “If they want to change our name, it’s annoying,” said Mr. Tsai, a former rugby player with a gruff voice. “I might end up putting myself in danger. I’m the president, so I have to defend this name.”

Telephone and written inquiries on the subject of Taiwan made to the Beijing organizing committee for the Summer Games went unanswered.

Mr. Tsai said people might also see political significance in the repositioning of the Taiwanese delegation in the opening ceremony.

In past Games, when delegations marched into the Olympic stadium in alphabetical order by their English names, the Taiwanese athletes entered with the T countries. In Beijing, delegations will march in according to their Chinese names. That eliminates any suggestion of the name of Taiwan, Mr. Tsai said, and puts the delegation of Chinese Taipei next to that of the Central African Republic. “We prefer T,” he said.

Wong's discussion of the Torch relay:

As early as last year, political tensions between China and Taiwan made their mark on the coming Games. The Taiwanese government led by Chen Shui-bian, then the president, who tried to move Taiwan closer to formal independence, decided in April 2007 not to allow the torch to pass through the island because the flame would then go on to Hong Kong, signifying that Taiwan was part of China.

That canceled an agreement Mr. Tsai had signed in Beijing in December 2006 allowing the torch to come through Taiwan. Mr. Tsai said in the interview that he was disappointed with the government’s decision.

In fact the Torch was never more than a political ploy of China's, as Max Hirsch reported a while back.

Printouts of the Web site provided by Taiwan Thinktank yesterday, dated Thursday 8:51pm -- a half hour after Beijing announced, amid fireworks and celebrations, that Taipei would be included in the relay -- showed the committee's official list of locales to host the relay. Taiwan was marked by its absence.

Another reason Taipei rejected Beijing on the Torch, in addition to its attempt to annex the island to China, was that Beijing insisted at the last minute that the Torch route be clear of protesters and of references to the ROC. Even Ma Ying-jeou complained that he could not accept that the ROC flag could not be displayed on the Torch route.

The Wong piece article is long and contains lots of interesting comments and anecdotes. Have at it!


Anonymous said...

The article is annoying in the way it keeps referring to Taiwan as 'the island' rather than 'the country'. The clarity of the explanation of Zhonghua Taipei vs Zhongguo Taipei was refreshing.

Eli said...

I like the way he attempts to explain the difference between Zhonghua Taipei and Zhongguo Taipei. The distinction is a little silly, since they both translate into Chinese Taipei in English, and the distinction is completely lost on anyone who doesn't know Chinese, and Zhonghua is also part of China's official name. I still don't understand why it is Zhonghua Taipei and not Zhonghua Taiwan. Was it China that was opposed to Zhonghua Taiwan or the KMT.

Eli said...

On the other hand, I guess agreeing on Zhonghua could be seen more as an acceptance of a common heritage (represented by different political entities), where using Zhongguo contextualizes Taipei as part of the political entity known as Zhongguo (China) and governed by the CCP. It still doesn't explain why Taipei and not Taiwan. There is no dispute about the name Taiwan; the dispute is about the status of Taiwan, whether it is a province of China or an independent country.

Richard said...

I love all the pro-China "demonstrators" (both paid and unpaid) to demonstrate/protest their propaganda in the U.S. Especially the ones that have been carrying signs saying, "Stop politicizing Olympics." All we have to do is look at China to see who the real people are that are politicizing the event.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Taiwan vs. China: The folks at -- so often so right -- are once again offering Taiwan up for assimilation:

Anonymous said...

Saw the link, and instantly Bevin Chu - the scion of an obscure ROC foreign service officer - came to mind.

The Nelson (nogood nelson) Chen you and others are sparring with at "Taiwan Focus" oozes Bevin's stinky uber-Chinese arrogance.

But, bite my tongue, NgChen might be an alias for Lin/Hartzell & al. sawing leading questions to get anyone on that FAPA-related listserve to blow a fuse and ultimately admit to the fact that he/she agrees with the Lin/Hartzell theory on Formosa's ongoing interim status.

By the way, does anyone has any inkling of Dr. Lin's latest affiliation?

Hint: Real Taiwaners all speak Japanese. Those who won't can be tarred with a pan-Chinese outlook.

Taiwan used to be a Japnese territory the ROC unlawfully reclaimed.

Formosans! Forget about speaking Minnanhua, a language that makes you second-rate Chinese!

Outdoors, speak Japanese so loudly as to drawn the Peiping language out.

Demand that foreign representations in Taihoku be staffed with Japanese-speakers the caliber of the late Georges Kerr.

Learn from the Chankoros and the Zengakuren. Act up!! We want some action here.