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MAC says still open to torch coming to Taiwan

Tung Chen-yuan insists China must not downgrade the country in the process

MAC says still open to torch coming to Taiwan

Mainland Affairs Council Vice Chairman Tung Chen-yuan said yesterday that Taiwan would welcome the passage of the Olympic torch through the country but rejects the intention of China downgrading Taiwan to the level of one of its provinces.
Tung made the remarks at a seminar held in Taipei on the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and cross-Taiwan Strait relations.
Tung said it is an honor for Olympic member nations to have the torch pass through their countries and that Taiwan would like to share this honor.
However, he added, Taiwan opposes Beijing's political intervention in sports affairs and the torch relay route proposed by Beijing.
The Olympics organizers announced Thursday that Taipei would be included as a leg on the torch relay's "domestic" route.
According to Beijing's announcement, the Olympic torch would arrive in Taipei from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam before heading to the China-controlled areas of Hong Kong and Macau.
Announcing the route, Jiang Xiaoyu, executive vice president of the Beijing Olympic organizing committee, referred to Taipei, Hong Kong and Macau as "overseas Chinese cities, " a description that downgrades Taiwan's sovereign status.
An indignant Taipei insisted that the Olympic torch must enter and depart Taiwan via a country other than China.
Tung noted that the Taiwan government has stated repeatedly that the torch arrangement should adopt the Olympic courtesy by obtaining the approval of the country through which the torch is scheduled to travel.
According to Tung, Beijing Olympic Games organizing committee has since March 2005 included Taiwan in China's "domestic route" for the torch relay.
In addition, Chinese officials and journalists have repeatedly referred to Taiwan as "Taipei, China, " which Tung said violates the agreement reached between the Chinese Olympic Committee and the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee in 1989, in which both sides agreed to use "Chinese Taipei" when referring to Taiwanese sports teams when they visit China.
Taiwan's refusal to be included in the Beijing-proposed route for next year's Olympic torch relay is an issue of "sovereignty" and "respect" rather than of "credibility or routing," a senior official said yesterday.
A day earlier, Mainland Affairs Council Vice Chairman Liu Te-hsun dismissed claims by Jiang that Taiwan had reneged on an agreement to allow the torch to enter Taiwan from Vietnam, then proceed on to Hong Kong.
Liu claimed that it was Beijing that had changed its tune. "We have discovered that China started spreading propaganda claiming that Taiwan would be the Olympic torch's first leg on the 'interior route.' Worse still, China has typically referred to Taiwan as 'Taipei, China' instead of using its formal designation in the International Olympic Committee of 'Chinese Taipei,'" he added.
At the moment, Liu said, Taiwan will not rule out the possibility of hosting a leg of the relay, although it requires further discussion.
Against this backdrop, Liu said, the CTOC sent a letter to Beijing again April 20 protesting its abuse of the torch relay route for political manipulation and stressing that Taiwan could not accept China's attempt to downgrade its sovereign status.
To avoid a situation in which the Olympic torch might be described as traveling from "Taipei, China" to "Hong Kong, China, " Liu said the CTOC requested in its April 20 letter that the flame enter and exit Taiwan via third countries.
"However, Beijing ignored our request and announced the route Thursday, " Liu said, adding that Taiwan was surprised at Beijing's announcement.
For the sake of safeguarding Taiwan's sovereignty and national dignity, Liu said, Taiwan must reject the Beijing-dictated torch relay route.
In the process, Liu said, the CTOC has approached the IOC for assistance, calling attention to Taiwan's plight that Beijing is deliberately attempting to belittle Chinese Taipei - an independent member of the IOC - as an integral part of China.
At the moment, Liu said, Taiwan will not rule out the possibility of hosting a leg of the relay, although it requires further discussion.
The Chinese Olympics organizers announced Thursday that Taipei would be included as a leg in the torch relay's "domestic" route. According to Beijing's announcement, the Olympic torch would arrive in Taipei from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam before heading to the China-controlled areas of Hong Kong and Macau.
While unveiling the route, Jiang referred to Taipei alongside with Hong Kong and Macau as "overseas Chinese cities," a description that downgrades Taiwan's sovereign status.
According to information collected by GIO personnel stationed around the world, a total of 25 major news media had reported the issue, with Japanese media accounting for the largest coverage, followed by other Asian media.
GIO officials said the majority of the world news media had reported objectively on the Taiwan government's stance and the situation between the two sides of Taiwan Strait, and that few made any editorial comments. An AP report said the episode underscores the deep mistrust between Taipei and Beijing.
Due to the objective coverage of the issue, there has been no damage to Taiwan's image related to its rejection of the torch relay, the officials said.


Updated : 2021-01-25 05:31 GMT+08:00