Wed, Sep 12, 2007 - Page 3 News List

MAC asks Beijing to drop its `extraneous condition'

CONTENTIOUS Undisclosed last-minute conditions set by Beijing led Taipei to emphasize that the torch will only be allowed in if the nation's dignity is not affected


A senior Taiwanese official urged China yesterday to drop an "extraneous condition" that he said led to the breakdown of talks over the weekend on bringing the 2008 Olympic torch to Taiwan.

Chief of Taiwan's Olympics committee Tsai Chen-wei (蔡辰威) held talks with his Chinese counterpart in Beijing on Saturday after China agreed to consider Taiwan an external, instead of internal part of the torch route.

Head of the Mainland Affairs Council Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) said that the Chinese side was holding up a deal on the torch issue by imposing last minute conditions.

"We would welcome the Olympic torch coming to Taiwan," Chen said. "But we could by no means accept the extraneous condition that China attached on the eve of talks."

Chen did not elaborate on what had caused the weekend discussions to bog down.

But Taiwanese media said China insisted Taiwan's national flag and official emblem not be shown along a proposed 24km torch route in Taipei.

In a rare show of unity, politicians from both ruling and opposition parties condemned Beijing over the torch issue, accusing it of failing to live up to the Olympic spirit and showing little respect for the Taiwanese.

In his remarks on Tuesday, Chen said the ball was now in Beijing's court.

"Whether the Olympic torch could come or not now depends on Beijing," he said.

In April, Taipei rejected China's original proposal for the worldwide torch relay, saying the Beijing committee made Taiwan appear to be part of Chinese territory by arranging for the torch to pass Taiwan before it goes onto China-controlled Hong Kong.

Premier Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) told legislators during his administrative report at the Legislative Yuan yesterday that the main issue in the negotiations with China over the Olympic torch route was Taiwan's sovereignty.

"Our only request is that we are not humiliated or discriminated against. That is all we ask," Chang said.

"We hope that the torch can pass through Taiwan because we are also a member of the international community," he said.

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) yesterday gave his support to the government's putting the nation's dignity first on the matter of the torch relay.

"The torch relay plan will only be acceptable if the nsovereignty of Taiwan is not compromised," Wang said.

"We have to defend the country's dignity if the arrival of the torch threatens its sovereignty," Wang said," he said.

Additional reporting by Jimmy Chuang and Shih Hsiu-chuan


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