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Taiwan welcomes use of ‘Chinese Taipei’

Taiwan welcomes Beijing’s move to address it with the official title that it uses in the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Government Information Office Minister Shieh Jhy-wey said yesterday.

Shieh made the remarks after China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Yang Yi referred to Taiwan as “Chinese Taipei” while talking about the 2008 Beijing Olympic torch relay issues at a routine news conference earlier in the day.

It marked a major change in Beijing’s references to Taiwan on Olympic affairs. For years, Beijing has addressed Taiwan as “Taipei, China” instead of the IOC-sanctioned designation “Chinese Taipei.” Beijing has deliberately used its moniker as a means of showing its claim of sovereignty over Taiwan.

On April 26, Taiwan rejected a China-proposed torch relay route that would have had the flame arriving in Taiwan from Vietnam April 30, 2008, and going on to China-controlled Hong Kong and Macau. The moniker dispute was one of the reasons cited by Taiwan for its snubbing of the Beijing-proposed route.

“Given Taiwan’s status as a formal IOC member, Beijing should at the very least address us by our official title in the organization, “ Shieh said, adding that Beijing’s change has vindicated some of the injustice Taiwan has endured over the years.

Shieh further said that so long as China refrains from efforts to “downgrade Taiwan or localize Taiwan” and instead deals with Taiwan on an equal footing, relations across the Taiwan Strait will definitely be on friendly terms and could even be “as cordial as brotherhood.”

Lee Kao-hsiang, deputy minister of the Sports Affairs Council, echoed Shieh’s view, saying that Taiwan is satisfied with Beijing’s change in its attitude toward the name issue.

As for the Olympic torch relay, Lee said Taiwan remains firm on its position that the flame must enter and exit Taiwan via a third country.

“We cannot afford to compromise on this fundamental stance, “Lee said, adding that Taiwan cannot accept any arrangement of the relay route that would make Taiwan appear as a stop on a Chinese domestic route.

Lee said Taiwan looks forward to a new round of cross-strait talks on adjustments of the original Olympic torch relay route.

While announcing the 137,000-km relay route in Beijing April 26, Chinese officials claimed that Taiwan would be the starting point of China’s domestic relay route, prompting Taiwan to reject the offer.

As with all Olympics, next year’s relay will begin in Greece March 25. After circling Greece, it will arrive in Beijing March 31. It will then wend its way across Asia, Europe, the Americas, Africa and back to Asia and China before being used to ignite the cauldron at the opening ceremony Aug. 8 in Beijing’s 91,000-seat National Stadium.

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