Sat, Apr 14, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Torch route to link Taiwan to China

CIRCUITOUS ROUTE Beijing has agreed to the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee's suggestion that the Olympic torch proceed directly to Chinese territory from Taiwan

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH AGENCIES AND STAFF WRITER

The Olympic committees representing Taiwan and China have agreed in principle on how the Olympic torch will pass through Taiwan -- from a country other than China and on to Hong Kong before entering China, news reports said.

The Beijing Olympics Organizing Committee yesterday said it had finalized the route for the torch relay next year.

While it gave no details of the route and said it would announce details soon, Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee vice chairman Tsai Tsi-chuei (蔡賜爵) said the torch would probably be taken to Japan, South Korea or a Southeast Asian nation before Taiwan, Japan's Kyodo News agency said on Thursday.

Chen Kuo-yi (陳國儀), secretary general of the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee, yesterday said that his group had told the Beijing Olympics committee it would accept a route that moves the torch from one International Olympic Committee (IOC) member through Taiwan to another IOC member, including the Chinese territory of Hong Kong.

In previous discussions, China had pressed for Taiwan to be treated as a domestic territory rather than a foreign entity and had tried to sandwich it between two Chinese territories.

Chen said he would accept a route that takes the torch from South Korea to Taiwan to Hong Kong.

"Hong Kong is an IOC member," he said. "We would certainly be willing for the torch to go from here to there."

Beijing could find that route attractive because of Hong Kong's status as a Chinese territory. That status could allow it to claim that the torch had moved in a straight domestic line -- from Taiwan to Hong Kong to China.

Chen said the Beijing organizing committee was aware of the Taiwanese position on the torch route, but declined to confirm whether it had accepted it.

Calls to the offices of the Bei-jing committee went unanswered.

The IOC is scheduled to discuss the torch relay with the Beijing committee next week and is expected to approve the arrangements at an IOC board meeting from April 23 to April 27 in Beijing.

Asked for comment yesterday, Democratic Progressive Party caucus whip Wang Tuoh (王拓) gave a thumbs-up to the consensus on including Taiwan in the torch relay.

"By joining this grand global event, different political camps will be able to put their differences aside and allow sports events to be simply sports events," he said.

On whether the consensus infringed on Taiwan's sovereignty, Wang said: "There is no need to politicize everything."

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus whip Hsu Shao-ping (徐少萍) echoed Wang's opinion.

In a telephone interview yesterday, she said she thought it was a great idea to include Taiwan in the torch relay, adding that "a lot of things should not be politicized, especially sports events."

People First Party caucus whip Chao Liang-yen (趙良燕) also lauded the consensus.

Taiwan Solidarity Union caucus whip Yin Ling-ying (尹伶瑛), however, said the party was concerned that China may have agreed to include Taiwan because it considered it to be a local government.

"We welcome the decision only if China treats Taiwan as an independent state," she said.

Mainland Affairs Council Vice Chairman Johnnason Liu (劉德勳) said the government still had to approve the route and that the route had to respect Taiwan's sovereignty.

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