Questions on why a Republic of China (ROC) flag that was hung along with the flags of other countries in central London was removed remained shrouded in mystery yesterday, as the organizer said it would replace it with a Chinese Taipei Olympic flag, but declined to say why.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Steve Hsia (夏季昌) said the organizer, the Regent Street Association, on Tuesday responded to a letter from the Taipei Representative Office in the UK expressing concern over the matter.
In its short reply, the association said it felt “sorry” and that the Chinese Taipei Olympic flag would be hung up the next day, Hsia said. It did not say why the ROC flag was taken down.
Representative to the UK Shen Lyu-shun (沈呂巡) was quoted by the Central News Agency as saying he was “not satisfied” with the result and that it was “barely acceptable.”
In Taipei, Hsia avoided a question on whether the ministry found the answer acceptable by saying the representative office was still communicating with the association “in hopes it can hang the ROC national flag back in its original place.”
The ROC flag was originally among an array of 206 flags of nations competing in the Olympics, a display stretching more than 3km down Regent Street to Piccadilly Circus before continuing south down Regent Street, including Jermyn Street and Conduit Street, to celebrate the Olympic Games.
The national flags were positioned in alphabetical order, with six flags in a line. The ROC flag was hung with the flags of Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania and Thailand, before it was removed on Tuesday, leaving the slot vacant.
Shen sent a letter to the association to register the nation’s “strong concern” over the removal, and to convey “our view that the nomenclature regarding Taiwan’s participation in the Olympics shall not be applied to the display of the flags in the street,” Hsia said.
Due to political opposition from China to Taiwan’s participation in the Olympics, a protocol signed in 1981 between the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) mandates that Taiwan compete under the name “Chinese Taipei” and the ROC’s national flag and national anthem cannot be used at competition venues.
The protocol does not ban the use of ROC flags in venues not used for the Games during the Olympics period, Hsia said.
Shen also said in the letter that in a democracy, a matter like this shall fall “within the scope of freedom of speech” and “shall not be subject to interference by a third party,” according to Hsia.
The association might still opt to follow the 1981 protocol in the end because “it has its own concerns,” Hsia said.
“In that case, we will fly our national flag on other occasions at appropriate times in London,” he said.
Several Taiwanese students and expats in London have protested against the incident by carrying ROC flags to the site.
Former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) spokesman Chen Yi-hsin (陳以信), who is taking up doctoral studies in London, posted a photo of him raising a national flag at the site on his Facebook page yesterday, saying it was “a protest” against the disappearance of the ROC flag in London.
“I was shocked when I learned that the flag had been removed, and it’s regrettable to see the spot where our national flag was hanging four days ago is empty now,” he said.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who doubles as KMT chairman, did not discuss the incident while presiding over the party’s Central Standing Committee yesterday, which invited Sports Affairs Council Deputy Minister Rosa Chien (錢薇娟) to report on the Taiwanese team’s participation in the Games.
Ma promised to continue pushing sports development and said the government would build 50 sports centers in the country, continuing a policy he started when he was the mayor of Taipei by building 12 sports centers in the city.
Proposed legislation in the US outlines three conditions in which Washington would be authorized to protect Taiwan were China to invade, a report said yesterday. US Representative Ted Yoho this month said he would introduce a Taiwan Invasion Prevention Act, which would authorize US military force if China were to invade Taiwan-controlled areas, including its outlying islands. According to a version of the bill obtained by the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the sister paper of the Taipei Times), the bill lists three conditions in which a US president would be authorized to use military force to protect Taiwan: If China uses military force
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