Wednesday, August 20, 2008
International Olympic Committee Embraces "One China" Policy
No flag, anthem -- or even country name -- for Taiwanese Olympians
Those who have been paying close attention to the Beijing Olympics may have taken notice of a country that they otherwise may have been unaware exists.
Mostly because it doesn't.
As this Al Jazeera report notes, "Chinese Taipei" may seem like the name of some fledging new Asian state, but it isn't. Rather, "Chinese Taipei" is the name imposed by the IOC on Taiwan, whom China regards as a "renegade province". The IOC even took the liberty of giving the Taiwanese team a new -- distinctly non-Taiwanese -- flag for the duration of the 2008 games.
Countless events leading up to the 2008 games have put the lie to the IOC's insistence that hosting the games would help China improve its human rights record. Now, the IOC's treatment of Taiwan -- under pressure applied by the Chinese state -- has put the lie to the notion that hosting the Olympics will give China incentive to improve its foreign policy stance.
In this case, the policy imposing itself on the Olympic games is China's contentious "One China" policy. Of course, Taiwan has its own One China policy, in which its government insists that it is the legitimate government of China.
Historically, this goes all the way back to the struggle between the Communist Party of China, who succeeded in seizing control of mainland China, and the Kuomintang who, defeated in the Chinese Civil War, sought refuge on the island of Taiwan.
For the IOC to effectively take sides in the One China controversy -- telling Taiwanese athletes they aren't allowed to compete under their own flag, or hear their own anthem after a victory -- shows just how pervasive the effect of China's influence over the games has become. It's undermined one of the Olympics' most fundamental traditions -- competing in the name of one's country.
It's yet another black eye the IOC will have to find a way to erase.