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World waking up to fallacy of 'Chinese Taipei' compromise

Taiwan wins hearts and minds in and out of sporting arena at Tokyo 2020

World waking up to fallacy of 'Chinese Taipei' compromise

(CNA photo)

KAOHSIUNG (Taiwan News) – Tokyo 2020 has been controversial because the number of COVID-19 cases is on the rise again in Japan, but it has been a hugely successful Olympics for Taiwan both in and out of the sporting arena.

Taiwan already has one gold courtesy of weightlifter Kuo Hsing-chun (郭婞淳). She was so dominant that she won the title on her first lift, set a new Olympic record with her second, and had a stab at breaking her own world record with her third.

There have also been silvers for the men’s archery team, who enjoyed a satisfying victory over China, and judoka Yang Yung-wei (楊勇緯). Meanwhile, there were bronze medals for the mixed doubles table tennis team, women’s featherweight taekwondo fighter Lo Chia-ling, and weightlifter Chen Wen-huei.

More medals seem likely with the men’s doubles badminton team of Lee Yang (李洋) and Wang Chi-lin (王齊麟) into the semifinals. Also, Tien Chia-chen (田家榛) and Wu Chia-ying (吳佳穎) have reached the final of the women's 25-meter pistol competition.

The Taiwan Olympic team was at one stage as high as 12th in the overall medal table and we are still ahead of a number of much larger nations.

The success of Team Taiwan has rightly been a matter of national pride. For a nation with a population of just 23 million people, Taiwan has undoubtedly punched above its weight on the global stage once more.

Indeed, the only downside has been that, once again, Taiwanese competitors have been unable to compete under their own flag, hear their national anthem, or even compete under the name of their own country because of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) bullying.


This has not always been the case. Having dropped out of the 1952 Olympics after both Taiwan and China attempted to compete under the moniker of China, Taiwan competed in the 1956 Olympics as "Formosa-China."

In 1960, after China dropped out of those games and in a huff quit the International Olympic Committee (IOC), at the behest of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Taiwan competed under the name of Taiwan and used the Republic of China flag.

This was repeated in 1964 and 1968, but we switched to the Republic of China for the 1972 Olympics. In 1976, host nation Canada demanded that Taiwan switch back and compete as Taiwan again, something the Kuomintang (KMT) led military dictatorship refused — instead boycotting the Games.

In hindsight, this was a terrible decision. In 1979, along with much of the rest of the world, the IOC formally recognized Beijing and with it their spurious claims to sovereignty over Taiwan. Taiwan was suspended from membership and only allowed back after the whole unsatisfactory Chinese Taipei fudge (known as the Nagoya Resolution) was agreed to.

In recent years, the kickback against a name and a flag that represents no one has been growing. It has been noted that the only other nation competing in Tokyo under an assumed identity is Russia (under ROC) — but they have been banned from international competition for systemic doping violations.

Taiwan is guilty of no such crime yet because of the whims of an authoritarian regime in another country, we have to endure the same fate.

Olympic name

In 2018, a referendum was held over whether to change our official Olympic-designated name from Chinese Taipei to Taiwan. The result was 54% of voters disagreed with this but only because it was made clear by the IOC that if Taiwan tried to rectify the name, their athletes were likely to be barred from competing.

Given Taiwan’s success in Tokyo, this appears to have been the correct call at the time but there is no doubt the momentum for change is building, both in Taiwan and the wider world. There have been numerous examples of Taiwan being referred to by its proper name internationally.

During the Opening Ceremony, of the Games, the Taiwan team was introduced correctly as the Taiwan team by Japan’s main broadcaster NHK.

During the Opening Ceremony each team was introduced in accordance with Japan's 50-tone sound phonetic system. The Taiwan team should have been introduced under chi (チ), for "Chinese-Taipei," but instead entered the arena under ta (タ) for Taiwan – another milestone.

Amusingly, Chinese broadcaster Tencent cut away from the Taiwan team (presumably to avoid offending the highly sensitive Chinese viewers). However, it forgot to cut back and missed the Chinese team’s arrival too.

A number of international publications, including La Gazzetta dello Sport, Italy’s most-read newspaper, and French newspaper L’Equipe, have chosen to use the name Taiwan in their medal tables.

Soft power

These are all significant soft power victories for Taiwan and will doubtless infuriate the CCP regime, which will claim the Chinese people are "offended" by such moves. If any nation should be offended, it is Taiwan, since it is forced to compete under a made-up name in order to appease a hostile foreign state.

The usual parties have stuck doggedly to the fallacy that Taiwan does not exist. For example, there has been plenty of coverage of the fact that the official Olympics social media sites are choosing not to give Taiwanese medal winners a flag by their name at all.

Arguably this is better than being landed with the meaningless Chinese Taipei flag that does not represent anyone.

More than any other Olympic Games so far, Tokyo 2020 has raised international awareness about the ludicrous Nagoya Resolution. There have been numerous international articles explaining to confused sports fans who Chinese Taipei really is and why they are forced to compete under such a name.

There has also been a groundswell of opinion pieces from supporters of Taiwan lambasting the fact that a democratic nation is treated this way, at the behest of a genocidal communist dictatorship. One such op-ed in the Washington Examiner, an opinionated tabloid if ever there was one, commented that China "continues to whine that Taiwan is not censored enough at the Olympics." "Whine" is the perfect word.

With Tokyo 2020 now well underway, the IOC and its pro-China stance is looking ever more compromised in the eyes of the world. This issue is likely to come to a head over the next Olympic Games, the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, when the IOC tries to host its flagship event for the first time in a country that is committing genocide.

There are movements across the world to push for diplomatic and even sporting boycotts from this morally questionable event. There is no doubt whatsoever that the issue of Taiwan (or Chinese Taipei) will rear its head again at some point.

Taiwan does not expect to have much medal success in the Winter Olympics. But perhaps Beijing 2022 might end up being the tipping point that leads to Taiwan’s athletes finally being able to represent their country properly on the international stage.