A second cross-strait baseball tournament to be held in Taipei in late October is expected to win the support of the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), local media reported yesterday.
The SEF has agreed to be the tournament’s “official adviser” and the Chinese Baseball Association has requested that ARATS play a similar role, media reports said.
Chinese Taipei Baseball Association (CTBA) secretary-general Richard Lin (林宗成) said that if ARATS gave the nod, he would visit Beijing to invite ARATS Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) to be the tournament’s honorary joint chairman and ask former vice president Lien Chan (連戰) to throw the opening pitch.
“Lien will be given the honor because of his long-time dedication to improving cross-strait relations,” Lin said.
Lin said the Chinese government knows that baseball is a popular sport in Taiwan, where the sport’s development is ahead of that in China.
The first cross-strait baseball games were held in August last year in Xishuangbanna, a remote city in southwestern China. The games were called the “Silk Road” series, in which cultural significance prevailed over sporting competition. Eight teams from the two sides of the Taiwan Strait participated in the tournament.
This year, six additional youth teams, including one from Hong Kong, will be invited to the Taipei tournament from Oct. 24 to Oct. 28.
With high-level official support from Taipei and Beijing, the second cross-strait tournament would show that “late starting” cross-strait baseball exchanges between Taiwan and China could catch up with other sports, such as basketball, golf and tennis, CTBA officials said.
Cross-strait high school basketball games were launched in 1993 and golf competitions were started in 1997.
Tennis matches between Taiwan and China began six years ago and women’s softball and yachting contests are already in their third year.
Lin said government support for baseball games between Taiwan and China would mean the games would have political, economic and cultural significance.