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August 18, 2017

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Stop fighting over the flag, cheer for Taiwan's athletes

The ongoing heated competition at the London Olympics has caught the attention of many Taiwanese, all eager to watch the spirited performances of both local athletes and those from around the world.

Unfortunately, the sporting event has been marred by political controversies even before it officially kicked off last week.

Before the games started, organizers removed Taiwan's national flag from Regent Street in London — reportedly due to Chinese pressure. Originally displayed among other national flags, the R.O.C. flag was replaced with the Chinese Taipei Olympic version.

The removal of the national flag of the Republic of China, Taiwan's official name, and its replacement with that of Chinese Taipei, a name Taiwanese teams have used to compete in the competition since 1984, immediately drew an angry response from both nationals in both Taiwan and the United Kingdom.

As a way to protest Beijing's relentless suppression of Taiwan's bids for international space, overseas Taiwanese have formed parades to march through London streets while holding the R.O.C. flag, a creative way to bring the missing national colors back to London.

Compared with the heartfelt imaginativeness shown by expatriates in London, here in Taiwan the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) and main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) were again caught in meaningless political mudslinging.

The DPP blasted the ruling administration for failing to take a tougher stance and not lodging a stronger protest over the flag's disappearance, while the KMT called on the pro-Taiwan independence DPP to show some "real" respect for the R.O.C. flag.

The incident has once again reminded us of the sad international reality that the world, cowed by Chinese pressure, continues to ignore the island-nation's existence.

It also reminds us that despite the KMT's numerous claims that cross-strait relations have been warming up over the past four years since President Ma Ying-jeou took office, Beijing has not given up its decades-long suppression of Taiwan in the global arena.

It is true that the KMT has failed to take a tougher stance regarding the flag's removal, as alleged by the DPP. In fact, the opposition has every reason to criticize the government over the incident, which has hurt the feelings of Taiwanese and compromised our national dignity.

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