The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday called on the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to show more respect for the national flag, after the latter criticized Taipei’s response to the disappearance of the national flag from a decoration in the streets of London last week, following pressure from Beijing.
The Republic of China (ROC) flag was originally among an array of 206 flags of nations competing in the Olympics, a display set up by the Regent Street Association, stretching more than 3km down Regent Street to Piccadilly Circus before continuing south down Lower Regent Street, including Jermyn Street and Conduit Street, to celebrate the Olympic Games.
Although the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has sent a letter to the association to register the nation’s “strong concern” over the removal, it remains evasive in response to concerns about China’s role in the removal of the flag.
The ROC flag was later replaced with a Chinese Taipei Olympic flag, the emblem used to represent Taiwan under the 1981 protocol signed between the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee, stemming from a sovereignty dispute with China.
DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday lashed out at President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration for what he called its failure to demonstrate a stronger position in defending the ROC flag in the international community.
He questioned the government’s efforts to expand Taiwan’s international space after its evasive attitude regarding the national flag incident.
“What has Ma done in the removal of the national flag incident?” Su said.
“It is regretful that President Ma does not work to ensure Taiwan’s dignity and sovereignty internationally,” Su said.
“Since he became president, no matter what action China has taken to oppress Taiwan at international venues ... Ma has failed to make any protests,” he added.
Su said that while domestically people have different thoughts about the national flag, in international settings, to maintain Taiwan’s sovereignty and expand international recognition, we should maintain the ROC flag.
KMT spokesman Yin Wei (殷瑋) yesterday shrugged off Su’s criticism and challenged the DPP to identify with the ROC flag before commenting on the government’s efforts in defending it.
“Did the DPP ever recognize the ROC flag? Did Mr Su ever take a ROC flag with him during elections or at public venues? The DPP has criticized the ROC flag as a national symbol on numerous occasions and its criticism of the government now is hardly convincing,” he said.
The incident has placed Taiwanese officials in an awkward position, casting doubt on the effectiveness of Ma’s “diplomatic truce” policy that calls for Taiwan and China to not undermine each other diplomatically.
So far, Ma has remained low key in the incident and only expressed concerns about the incident via Presidential Office spokesman Fan Chiang Tai-chi (范姜泰基), promising to look into the matter of whether China pressured the Regent Street Association to remove the ROC flag — which British officials and reports have made clear was the case.
Additional reporting by Rich Chang