The replacement of a Republic of China (ROC) national flag with the Chinese Taipei Olympic flag in a display of 206 national flags in London has sparked heated discussions among netizens and a spate of uploaded photographs featuring the red, blue and white flag.
Initiating the display to celebrate the Olympics, the Regent Street Association, a private association of businesses in the area and is unaffiliated with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), made the replacement after three days, reportedly under pressure from the Chinese embassy in London conveyed via the UK Foreign Office and the IOC.
A number of neitzens have left messages on President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) Facebook page calling on him to step down because he “can’t even protect the flag.”
The incident took place on Tuesday, but Ma has yet to make a comment on the matter. Nor for that matter has his administration, with the exception of a letter from Representative to the UK Shen Lyu-shun (沈呂巡) to the organizer to express “strong concern.”
Ma must be “dim” if he believed that China would make any exceptions to its agenda of stifling Taiwan internationally because of his “pro-China” policies, a netizen said.
Students studying in the UK have uploaded various photographs of Taiwanese waving a ROC national flag in Piccadilly Circus, the venue of the display, with a message reading: “We put our national flag back in our own way.”
A student named Melissa Alexander invited netizens to “like” her Facebook post that reads: “This injustice has been going on for too long yet the world has never paid enough attention on this issue.”
“It is understandable that there is an agreement between the Taiwanese government and the Olympic association, that the Taiwanese national flag will not be on display in the Olympic stadium, nor along the Olympic route, to prevent an aggressive reaction from China and to maintain peace on the international stage. However, London’s Regent Street is not along the Olympic route. Hence there is absolutely no reason that the Taiwanese national flag cannot be shown in the skies of London,” the message read.
Former Democratic Progressive Party chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said in a Facebook message that she believed that many Taiwanese people felt “uncomfortable” because of the incident.
“Especially for many young netizens, they felt that they were ‘humiliated,’” she wrote.
Tsai urged the Ma administration to be “more proactive” in its handling of the matter. China should also learn to show “mutual respect” for Taiwanese, as opposed to provoking the feeling that China has been unfriendly to and has humiliated Taiwan, Tsai said.