Mon, Aug 28, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Ma lodges complaint over flag grab


Taipei Municipal Xisong Senior High School student Li Ya-wen, second left, is wrapped in a Republic of China flag as she stands on the stage before receiving her gold medal in the B-class Taekwondo contest at the 2006 International Children's Games in Bangkok, Thailand, on Saturday.


Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday said he had lodged a protest against China for seizing the national flag off the shoulders of two Taiwanese athletes at a children's international sports tournament in Thailand.

Chinese sports officials seized the Republic of China flags from two Taipei swimming champions attending the International Children's Games at Bangkok after they wrapped them round their shoulders as they walked toward a stage to collect their gold medals on Saturday, Ma said.

Chang Fen-fen (張芬芬), deputy secretary-general of the National Council of Physical Fitness and Sports and Taipei Deputy Mayor King Pu-tsung (金溥聰) immediately lodged a complaint with competition officials and the Beijing team regarding the three incidents, condemning the use of violence.

According to King, the Beijing team official did not want to lose face, and replied, "You left us with no other choice."

"Is violence your only choice?" King said he replied.

To this, King said, the female members of the Beijing team screamed "Yes!"

"I don't know why they had to act like a bunch of snot-nosed purse-snatchers. How they behaved was disgusting and ugly," King said at CKS International Airport upon his return to Taipei last night.

He urged all participating nation's to protest the assaults.

"It was a regrettable incident," Ma said. "It was an unfriendly ... brutal and impolite gesture."

Ma did not identify the Chinese officials or the athletes.

Most sports organizations do not bar athletes from wearing flags other than those formally sanctioned, Ma said.

Taiwan participates at most international sports events under the name of "Chinese Taipei" as the nation is prevented from using its official name because of China's objections.

The International Children's Games are held annually to promote friendship among youths aged 12 to 15.

Meanwhile, former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) said he considered it a very serious incident.

"Such an act of violence should not be accepted. We should lodge a solemn protest. We hope the Taipei City Government can properly deal with the incident," he said.

One Taiwanese athlete who was able to keep her flag was Li Ya-wen, who won the gold medal in the B-class Taekwondo contest.

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