Thu, Jul 10, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Beijing fiddles Taiwan’s name for Olympics

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA AND AFP , TOYAKO, JAPAN, PARIS AND BEIJING

The spokesman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, Yang Yi (楊毅), said yesterday that both Zhongguo Taibei (中國台北, “Taipei, China”) and Zhonghua Taibei (中華台北, “Chinese Taipei”) are acceptable translations for the official Olympic designation of “Chinese Taipei,” thus threatening to raise tensions between China and Taiwan one month before the Olympics.

In response, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said the development was “a severe mistake,” and it would protest to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Yang said that although both translations were acceptable, the Beijing organizing committee (BOCOG) would use Zhonghua Taibei in printed materials and at all venues. But Yang added that the decision was not binding on any other Chinese group, organization or individual.

In Taipei, MAC Vice Chairman Chang Liang-jen (張良任) said “Chinese Taipei” was the name that the Olympic committees of both sides agreed on in 1989 and that the government was firmly opposed to the name “Taipei, China.”

Chang said that in 1989, when the then chair of the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee, Lee Ching-hua (李慶華), met Chinese Olympic Committee representatives, the two parties agreed that the translation of “Chinese Taipei” would be Zhonghua Taibei.

SARKOZY SAYS OUI

Meanwhile, French President Nicolas Sarkozy will attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Games next month, his office said yesterday.

Sarkozy told Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) he would go to Beijing during a meeting on the sidelines of the G8 summit.

Sarkozy had threatened to boycott the Olympic opening gala following a Chinese crackdown in Tibet in March that sparked international outrage, leading to speculation that some world leaders might shun the Games.

“The head of state consulted all of his European counterparts and, with their agreement, will attend the opening ceremony in his double capacity as president of France and as president of the European Union,” the statement said.

Sarkozy said earlier that his decision on whether to attend the ceremony would hinge on progress in talks between China and the Dalai Lama.

In France, media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) accused Sarkozy of surrendering to China.

“I am disappointed and bitter. Until the last moment, I kept hoping he would not dare” attend the ceremony, RSF secretary-general Robert Menard said.

“This is a surrender in the middle of battle, an abandonment of all the commitments he made as a candidate and all of the values our country embodies,” Menard said.

He said Sarkozy’s decision was a “stab in the back” to Chinese dissidents, who had been “abandoned” by France.

RSF, which spearheaded protests during the Olympic torch’s global relay, said it was calling for protests outside Chinese embassies worldwide on Aug. 8 and would travel to China to demonstrate in defiance of a ban.

During his meeting with Hu, Sarkozy expressed France’s desire to boost its strategic partnership with China “in all its dimensions” and reiterated French support for Beijing following the May earthquake in Sichuan Province.

French officials said the meeting between Sarkozy and Hu went “extremely well” and the strategic partnership between France and China was “back on track once again.”

Xinhua news agency reported yesterday that tourists would be banned from visiting Beijing’s prestigious Peking University during the Olympics.

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