Mon, Sep 24, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Letters: Don't play Beijing's games

China has done everything in its power to give the impression it has some right to claim sovereignty over Taiwan, despite the fact that the communist dictatorship in Beijing has not ruled Taiwan in any way since the day it seized power in 1949.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC), like so many other international organizations needing to fawn over Beijing and kowtow to its belligerent claims regarding Taiwan, Tibet, the Dalai Lama, Falun Gong and a host of others it considers dangerous to its dictatorship, has long prevented Taiwan from flying its flag at Olympic events, or playing its national anthem, or even using its real name. Taiwan is called "Chinese Taipei." As if.

Now, Beijing has blamed Taiwan for refusing to accede to its restrictions for the Olympic torch route, which include prohibiting people in Taiwan from displaying the nation's flag along the torch's route.

I have a newsflash for Beijing and the IOC. In a democratic nation like Taiwan, the government has absolutely no authority whatsoever -- despite former Taipei mayor Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) unconstitutional actions -- to stop people from exercising their right to display their flag, someone else's, or their underwear.

In a free country, there is no police power to prevent people from expressing themselves. I can understand why Beijing would not understand this, despite its attempts to use the terms "democracy," "free speech" and "human rights" as if it understands what they mean. We are well aware there is no precedent in the People's Republic of China (PRC) for citizens to exercise their rights to do anything the government doesn't like. But that's not how it works in free countries. Which only highlights the fact that the PRC and Taiwan are not the same country.

Of course, if the IOC prohibits displaying the flag and the Taiwanese display it, and millions of Taiwanese parade in the streets calling the name of Taiwan, and singing its national anthem, and carrying signs that criticize China and say that Taiwan is free and independent, the IOC probably can try to later refuse to allow Taiwan to host an event, or even participate in an event. But doing so would only highlight how the IOC is merely acting as a proxy for the world's most brutal communist dictatorship -- a distinctly political act. How embarrassing.

Taiwan is a free, democratic nation. The PRC is a totalitarian dictatorship, and is not a free country. We know it. The world knows it. Beijing should just concede it already, and get on with the games.

Lee Long-hwa

New York

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