Outrage has risen at the 2012 Olympics where the flag of Taiwan, officially titled the Republic of China, has been removed from international display at the request of the Chinese embassy. The flag previously waved over the populous Regent Street in London, until it was repealed and then replaced with the flag of the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee.
“The Chinese Embassy informed us that the incorrect flag was on display, and we passed this information on to the Regent Street Association,” a game organizer LOCOG spokesman told AFP.
Shen Lyu-Hsun, a prominent Taiwan representative to the United Kingdom, posed a negative reaction towards the flag removal. ”It is true that we have to use a separate flag in the Olympic Games in accordance with the agreement we signed with the International Olympic Committee in 1981,” Shen wrote in a letter of protest.
“However, this agreement does not prevent us from using our national flag on any occasion outside the Games site.”
“In a democratic country and in a larger sense, we believe this kind of issue should be regulated by the freedom of expression without undue intervention from a third party,” the letter stated.
A spokesman for Shen also added, ”We do hope our national flag will be put back in its original place.”
Taiwan is imbued political controversy where Mainland China claims Taiwan to be under its sovereignty despite the Taiwanese government in the past having granted itself as the sole and legitimate representative over the entirety of China. Since the event of Republic of China (Taiwan) losing its seat in the United Nations and replaced by the People’s Republic of China the tables have been turned and wrought in debate over Chinese reunification or recognized independence.
The ongoing argument, to which the Taiwanese have been subject to outside control for over 400 years, comes down to a break of those who support Taiwanese nationalism vs. those who support mainland Chinese nationalism. The Chinese embassy’s request to have Taiwan’s removed makes a bold statement, asserting its domination over the other nation.
In a BBC article in 2002, Tuan Yao-cheng, a research fellow at National Chengchi University, said: “When we use the term ‘Taiwan’, mainland China is not happy. They think it means we are moving towards independence.
But, on the other hand, they will not let us use the name ‘Republic of China’ so people are angry.”
According to the AFP, “the row comes after a mix-up over North Korea’s national flag prompted its women’s football team to walk off the pitch on Wednesday in an embarrassing start to the Olympics.
London organisers apologised after the North Korean squad were pictured next to the flag of South Korea — with whom the North is officially still at war — at their opening match against Colombia at Hampden Park in Glasgow.
The North Koreans left the pitch in protest but were persuaded to return an hour later after the mistake was rectified, and went on to win the match 2-0.”
An Olympics spokesperson acknowledged that the display was not an official Olympic-related event and that the London Organizing Committee for the Games also had no say in the decision.
The Chinese embassy in London have yet to comment on the situation.