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September 24, 2017

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Ma orders Foreign Ministry to probe removal of flag in London

President Ma Ying-jeou has instructed the Foreign Ministry to look into a recent row over the removal of an R.O.C. flag from a London display by Olympic organizers, his spokesman said yesterday.

Taipei will lodge a strong protest to Beijing if it is confirmed that the flag was removed at the request of China, the spokesman, Fang Chiang Tai-chi said.

He added that such a move by China would be detrimental to the development of cross-strait relations.

Olympic organizers said Thursday that Taiwan's flag had been taken down at the request of the Chinese Embassy, AFP reported.

The banner was removed from a row of national flags hanging over Regent Street, one of London's busiest shopping roads, and replaced on Wednesday with that of Taiwan's Olympic committee, according to the news agency.

This flag has been used by Taiwan at Olympic events since the 1980s, when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) ruled that the nation could not compete under its formal name, the Republic of China.

London Games organizers, LOCOG, said they had advised the Regent Street Association, which represents retailers and is in charge of the display, to remove the R.O.C. flag after a complaint from China's embassy.

"The Chinese Embassy informed us that the incorrect flag was on display, and we passed this information on to the Regent Street Association," a LOCOG spokesman told AFP.

The Chinese Embassy in London did not respond to repeated requests to comment.

Taiwan's representative in Britain, Shen Lyushun, insists that the IOC ruling on its flag only applies to Olympic venues and has demanded an explanation.

A spokesman for Shen was cited as saying: "This agreement doesn't prevent us from using our national flag outside games venues — and this flag is in a business area, not a venue. We do hope our national flag will be put back in its original place."

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