Despite UNESCO's decision not to publish Taiwanese student Yang Chih-yuan's (
"We feel that Yang had courage in this matter, and we want to let the world know what peace is. Yang worked hard, but his painting will not be published by the United Nations because of pressure from China. We respect what Yang accomplished," said Su Dai-hsiung (蘇達雄), chief of the philatelic section of Chunghwa Post.
Yang, 15, who attends Hsinpu Junior High School, was one of six teenagers who won a recent worldwide contest by UNESCO to mark International Peace Day. While Yang's painting had been selected to be circulated as a commemorative postage stamp, UNESCO disqualified Yang following protests from China. Yang's painting had featured flags from around the world, one of which was Taiwan's flag.
Lions Club International, which had sponsored the poster-designing contest and invited young people from around the world to participate, currently holds the copyright to Yang's drawing. While Chunghwa Postal intends to publish Yang's work, authorization from Lions Club International has yet to be given.
Chen Cheng-te (陳正德), secretary general of the Lions Club's Taiwan chapter, explained that the organization's lawyers were already looking into the legal issues involved in authorizing the local circulation of Yang's work as a stamp, but said that the details had yet to be worked out.
"We conveyed our protest to the UN over this issue already. If the contest is really about peace, should politics be able to intervene?" Chen said. "Large nations should treat smaller nations with compassion and not intimidation. Cross-strait issues should be resolved with wisdom."
Chen admitted however that he could only speak on behalf of the Taiwan chapter, as he was unaware of Lions Club International's stance on the issue.
Su said Chunghwa Post wants to promote an image of peace by publishing Yang's work on commemorative stamps on International Peace Day, Sept. 21.
However, Su explained that Chunghwa Post's handling of the matter would be "low-key," saying that it would avoid mentioning Chinese obstruction of UNESCO's publication of Yang's work.
"We won't make a big deal of what happened for fear of what it could lead to," Su said.
Su added, however, that while the company generally seeks to capitalize on current market trends in its selection of stamp designs, "if there are political needs, we're willing to cooperate." The Presidential Office had earlier suggested that Yang's work be published as a stamp.
"This will be the first student work to be published as a stamp. In the past, we usually chose to use the work of well-known artists," Su said. He said the company had already had plans to encourage artistic endeavor among the nation's youths by publishing selected amateur works as stamps, and that Yang's painting had presented a good opportunity to put this idea into practice.