The 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, opened in spectacular fashion on Feb. 9, with US Vice President Mike Pence, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and leaders of many other nations in attendance at the opening ceremony.
Thanks to the popularity of South Korean TV dramas, many Taiwanese must have had a feeling of familiarity as they watched the performances, with echoes of K-dramas like The Great Jang-Geum played out in icy sub-zero temperatures.
Although there were mixed reviews for the horse-riding dance to the tune of the South Korean hit song Gangnam Style during the opening ceremony, it did add some fun and a popular flavor to the program.
After all, the Winter Olympics are not really Asian people’s scene, since many of the sports events involved are ones that most of us will never get to try.
Of course, the big contingent of North Korean athletes, as well as the attendance of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s younger sister Kim Yo-jung, were the biggest focus of attention, but they also provided an unusual taste of political competition on the sports field.
The sad part is that, despite South Koreans having worked hard for several years to create the Winter Olympics, the nation’s formal title — the Republic of Korea — was nowhere to be seen when the games finally took place, and its national flag — the Taeguki — was not raised during the Games.
When US TV station NBC broadcast the ceremony, it mentioned several successes that South Korea has achieved in the field of science and technology, but also said that there was no “North Korea” or “South Korea” at this event, but rather a single team representing one Korea. After all those years of diligent preparation, it must have been difficult for the host country to bear these changes that were made after political forces intervened just a few weeks before the event.
This brings to mind a number of incidents connected with Taiwan. Several Taiwanese civic groups have launched the Team Taiwan Campaign for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, calling for a referendum aimed at replacing the clumsy title of “Chinese Taipei” used at the Olympic Games and other international sporting events with the straightforward name “Taiwan.”
In the US, Taiwanese Americans have launched a campaign for the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the US to be renamed as the “Taiwan representative office,” which would not just reflect the will of Taiwanese, but also signify recognition by the international community.
The same can be said of the 2016 incident when US company Costco wrote a letter to the Formosan Association for Public Affairs, stating: “As you probably know, we have retail locations in Taiwan and very much consider it a country.”
Similarly, US Web site Yahoo Sports, in its Winter Olympics medals table, uses the name “Taiwan” instead of “Chinese Taipei,” showing recognition by international media that Taiwan is not part of China, so the name “Chinese Taipei” does not fit.
On Feb. 8, the Intelligent Community Forum, a global network, announced this year’s top seven intelligent communities, with three Taiwanese cities — Taoyuan, Chiayi and Tainan — among those selected. This is something for Taiwanese to be proud of and the forum’s Web site clearly states that these three cities are in Taiwan.
Indeed, Taiwan is our nation, and all the hard work and the resulting successes belong to Taiwanese.
Heaven helps those who help themselves, so go for it, Taiwan!
Mike Kuo is president of the Formosan Association for Public Affairs.
Translated by Julian Clegg
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