TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – With about 48 hours remaining in the month of August, the “Team Taiwan” campaign calling for a public referendum ahead of elections this November has succeeded in collecting the required number of signatures.
The campaign to scrap “Chinese Taipei” for “Team Taiwan” before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics has succeeded in collecting the necessary 281,000 signatures for their petition.
As of Wednesday morning, Aug. 29, the group had reported surpassing 400,000 signatures from the voting public, with the number continuing to grow as the deadline fast approaches.
For the application to the election commission to be considered valid, 1.5 percent of the total electorate must endorse the referendum.
The campaigners under banners declaring “Let Taiwan be Taiwan” hit the streets in force throughout the month of August, and collected an average of over 10,000 signatures a day. They exceed the necessary signatures and their original goal of 340,000 by a wide margin.
The signatures must be submitted by the end of August, so signatures collected Aug. 29 may be the last ones included with the application to the Central Election Commission, due on Friday.
At more than 400,000 signatures, there is clearly public support for the referendum. It now falls on the election commission and the government to stay true to the legal commitments made under the recent Referendum Act legislation and allow the referendum to proceed in November.
It remains to be seen how the wider populace of Taiwan feels about the issue of changing the title of “Chinese Taipei,” which is the officially sanctioned title under which the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recognizes Taiwan, and allows the country to participate in international sporting events.
Despite the strong likelihood of the referendum being held to a vote in November, there are still plenty of hurdles in the way of “Team Taiwan” joining the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Even if the measure passes, plenty of bureaucratic and political obstacles still await.
The IOC, acting in deference to Beijing, and in accordance with the 1979 Nagoya Resolution, and the 1981 Lausanne Agreement has already released a statement that it will not honor the wishes of the Taiwanese people on the matter of a name change referendum.
Further, the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee has also voiced its opposition to the referendum, since various bureaucratic concerns, and logistical difficulties would confront the committee if the government did advocate for a name change based on the referendum’s results.
But the most troublesome obstacle of all is the Chinese government in Beijing, which will decry the referendum and any affirmative result as a move towards Taiwan’s de jure independence.
Given the increasingly hostile attitude of Beijing towards Taiwan, and their intensifying campaign of suppression targeting the country, it remains uncertain how the communist government might respond to the results of a democratic referendum.
What is certain though, is that the those campaigning for the referendum have been tireless in their efforts these past few weeks, and their perseverance has paid off.
Those who signed the petition in an effort to dignify Taiwan and Taiwanese athletes on the international stage, will not be not cowed by fear of a possible rejection by Beijing or the IOC.
In fact, following the IOC's complacency in accepting Beijing's abrupt and mean-spirited decision to cancel the 2019 East Asian Youth Games in Taichung, in clear contravention of the IOC Charter and the the spirit of Olympism, many Taiwanese voters may also consider their vote on "Chinese Taipei" as a form of protest against the recent treatment Taiwan has received from these two parties.
Now the country awaits the official submission of the petition and the referendum's approval by the Central Election Commission, and then the results of the vote in November.
Congratulations to the all the organizers and campaigners on a job well done.
Go Team Taiwan!