At a Madonna concert in Taipei last year, the warm-up DJ shouted “I love Taiwan.”
The audience went wild, but the DJ followed this with “I love China” — which was met with stony silence from the crowd and put the workers at the concert venue on edge.
The DJ later apologized on Facebook, writing that he had allowed himself to get carried away in the moment and had accidentally humiliated the audience.
Humiliated is precisely how Taiwanese feel, because if they did not protest and fight, no one would know that people who are born and die Taiwanese cannot decide the name of their own nation. This is the abominable position China has put them in.
At the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, will Taiwanese still have to endure the name “Chinese Taipei?”
For Taiwanese, each successive change to the official name of the nation’s athletic teams has been a slap in the face.
The Olympic Charter states that “the practice of sport is a human right” and adds that the enjoyment of this right should be “without discrimination of any kind.”
From the perspective of Taiwanese, at least the International Olympic Committee talks about “human rights” and the absence of “discrimination,” so there is still some hope that it is worth continuing the fight.
In addition, the friendly relationship between Taiwan and Japan is strong and deep-rooted.
Following the earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011, Taiwan donated ￥20 billion (US$175.3 million at the current exchange rate) of financial aid — more than any other nation — while Taiwanese rescue teams and relief supplies were second in number only to the US.
By contrast, during a soccer game, South Korean supporters wrote “celebrate the big earthquake in Japan” on a banner in Japanese
The stark contrast between Taiwanese and South Korean responses will forever be engraved on the hearts of Japanese. The warmth that Taiwan showed Japan during its time of need has motivated some Japanese to appeal for Taiwanese athletes to be allowed to compete under the name “Team Taiwan” at the Tokyo Olympics.
Hideki Nagayama obtained approval from the Japanese Ministry of Justice to remove “China” from foreigner registration cards for Taiwanese visiting Japan and replace it with “Taiwan.”
Nagayama also launched a campaign to change the name of the Taiwanese team at the Tokyo Olympics. This has included arranging for former minister of national defense and Taiwan UN Alliance director Michael Tsai (蔡明憲) to appear on Japanese TV and taking to the streets of Tokyo to drum up support from Japanese.
With Japanese supporting the name change movement, how can Premier William Lai (賴清德) not represent the will of Taiwanese and declare that the nation’s name is important to Taiwanese?
First, Lai must instruct all government departments and state-owned media to refer to Taiwan’s national team as “Team Taiwan” and stop using “Chinese Taipei.”
Second, the law must be amended, and officials and the public must work in unison to show the nation’s determination to rectify the name of the Taiwanese team.
There is hope that such activities will give the Japanese government a reason to help Taiwan and start calling its team Team Taiwan, beginning with the Tokyo Olympics.
The gods help those who help themselves, and it is about time that the government started to take action.
Christian Fan Jiang is a director of the Northern Taiwan Society.
Translated by Edward Jones
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