Wed, May 02, 2018 - Page 3 News List

ROC flags removed by force at culture event in Jordan

CHINESE OBSTRUCTION:The organizer admitted that they removed the flags due to pressure from China, despite approving their display beforehand

By Lu Yi-hsuan and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Republic of China (ROC) flags were forcefully removed at an international culture event in Jordan on Saturday under pressure from China, the nation’s representative office in Jordan said on Monday.

The event organizers went to the Taiwanese booth and tore down the nation’s flags, the office said, adding that the flags were thrown to the ground and trampled on in the process.

Taiwanese present at the event could be heard yelling: “You can remove our flags, but you cannot remove our determination to be Taiwanese.”

Pressure from China has been mounting, with the nation’s representative office in Jordan recently forced to change its name from the “Commercial Office of the Republic of China (Taiwan)” to the “Taipei Economic and Cultural Office.”

The office said that it had been invited to join the 14th annual International City Festival by the Zaha Cultural Center in the Jordanian capital, Amman. A total of 25 nations were represented at this year’s event.

The office said it was aware that China had also been invited to participate in the event and confirmed with the center ahead of time that it would be acceptable to hang the nation’s flag at Taiwan’s booth.

Chung Nien-yu (鍾念雩), a Taiwanese doctoral student at the University of Jordan who helped set up Taiwan’s booth, said that the exhibition showcased elements of Taiwanese culture, including papercuttings and works of art made from colored glass and ceramics by Taiwanese artists, as well as Chinese calligraphy written by the Jordanian students of Taiwanese teachers.

The festival was nearly halfway through when the organizers showed up and tore down the flags, the office said.

Representative to Jordan Yang Hsin-i (楊心怡), who was at the booth, tried to stop the organizers from removing the flags.

Huang Yu-hui (黃玉慧), a teacher of Mandarin sent to Jordan by the nation’s International Cooperation and Development Fund, talked to the organizers, who told her that the instructions to remove the flags came from China.

“If we do not comply, they will ‘kill us,’” she quoted the organizers as saying.

After the flags were removed, participants from the Chinese booth came by the Taiwanese booth, “causing a ruckus and provoking people,” Yang said, adding that he stepped in to stop both sides from fighting.

The Chinese booth packed up and left shortly after the flags were torn down, Chung said.

It appeared that removing the flags was their intention from the beginning, he said.

“Taiwan should be more active in asserting its sovereignty. Otherwise, all we can do is get angry,” Chung said.

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