A high-level official responded by saying that the government “respected concerns the Olympic host city might have after it [the government] has made clear to the international community its position to safeguard its sovereignty and dignity.”
The official said: “We can accept the result to a certain degree under the condition that the nation’s sovereignty is not undermined.”
After realizing that his comments might draw ire, he later asked that his comments not be reported.
Hsia said the MOFA felt “regret” over the incident and the Taipei Representative Office in the UK “has been continuing its efforts” to communicate with the RSA in the hope that the ROC national flag could be returned to its position.
If the RSA insists on following the 1981 protocol and using the Chinese Taipei Olympic flag to represent Taiwan, which “we consider unnecessary, we have no way to force them not to do that because [it is] a private association,” Hsia said.
“Apparently the replacement of [the] flag was a result of third-party intervention,” Hsia said, declining to specify who the “third party” was.
“I did not read in the reports [of foreign news outlets] that it was pressure from China leading to the result,” he said.
Upon removal of the ROC national flag, Representative to the UK Shen Lyu-shun (沈呂巡) registered “strong concern” over the matter to the UK Foreign Office and the RSA, Hsia said.
“At least we did not learn from the RSA” that China was behind its decision, Hsia said, though he had no objection to the reasonable assumption that this could be the case.
Hsia said he could not comment on whether the UK Foreign Office had explained to Taipei the reasons for removing the flag, because of diplomatic protocol.
In response to inquiries, the British Trade and Cultural Office, the UK’s representative office in Taiwan, said the Foreign Office did suggest that the RSA might want to talk to LOCOG regarding the flag under which Taiwan participates in the Olympics, “but throughout we have been clear with all parties that this was a decision for the RSA.”