Tue, Jul 08, 2003 - Page 3 News List

NGOs ask ministry to develop flag for global conferences

By Sandy Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) should formulate a standard flag to be used by the country's international NGO chapters at global events, Wang Maw-hsiung (王茂雄), ad hoc committee chairman of the Lions Clubs International's (LCI) Taiwan chapter said yesterday.

A standard design would make it easier for the international community to identify Taiwan, Wang said.

"The measure could also help Taiwan's NGOs avoid the controversies like we've undergone in the face of obstruction and political oppression from China," Wang said, adding he plans to raise the flag-design issue in the next couple of days in a letter to the ministry and the Presidential Office.

Lu Ching-long (呂慶龍), deputy chairman of the ministry's NGO and International Affairs Committee, said the ministry has yet to develop a standard flag for NGOs.

"Since not all NGOs require membership flags, we think the issue should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis,'" Lu said.

In light of China's obstruction of Taiwan's NGOs on the international stage, however, Lu said that the ministry is drawing up standard operating procedures for NGOs in dealing with political oppression from Beijing at international events.

In April last year, Chicago-based Lions Clubs International headquarters bowed to pressure from Beijing and decided to remove the Republic of China flag for Taiwan's chapter and change the branch's name from "ROC Lions Club" to "China, Taiwan Lions Club."

Following an uproar from the local chapter, the dispute was settled last November when both headquarters and the Taiwan chapter agreed to refer to the chapter as "MD300, Taiwan."

Despite the compromise, the club headquarters is again kowtowing to Beijing, saying that "MD300, Taiwan" would be for internal use only and that in open formal settings, the chapter would still be referred to as "China, Taiwan Lions Club."

While the chapter has referred the issue to its lawyers, Wang said Taiwan's delegation was shocked to find upon its arrival at the Lions Clubs convention last week in Denver, Colorado, that China's chapter had already prepared a membership flag for Taiwan's representatives to use during the convention's opening ceremony.

The membership flag prepared by China consisted of "MD 300" written on a plain red background. It made no mention of Taiwan.

"We of course did not use the one prepared by China. We used a flag with a map of Taiwan and the complete wording of `MD300, Taiwan,'" Wang said.

The incident prompted the chapter to worry about the country's visibility at international settings.

"Without a clearly defined flag, the nation's NGOs' participation in international events can easily be overlooked," Wang said. "We would like to call on MOFA to come up with a standard flag to be used by all Taiwan NGO chapters at international events."

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