Chinese Olympic Committee president Yuan Weimin (
By saying yes right away, Taiwan would have to accept the consequences. Flatly rejecting Beijing's request, on the other hand, risked provoking China and triggering a hysterical reaction.
Some people in Taiwan, however, acted too rashly. It was only proper that the Chinese-Taipei Olympic Committee should give Yuan a hearty welcome, but not that it pledged its support so quickly. Some people invoked nationalism to explain the rush to support Beijing's bid, others said backing Beijing could win eight years of peace at no cost.
A recent report in the United Daily News (
Germany held the Olympic Games in Berlin in 1936, under Adolf Hitler's leadership, to create a peaceful and serene image. In September 1939, Hitler ordered the invasion of Poland and started World War II. If the PRC attacked Taiwan one year after the 2008 Olympics, it would be turning its back even quicker than Hitler.
Some people believe that if Taiwan supports China's hosting the Games, cross-strait relations will improve and China will alter the deadline. Let's again review history.
In September 1990, one year after the Tiananmen Square Incident (
But when Taiwan applied in 1995 to host the 2002 Games in Kaohsiung, Beijing was firm in its objections. Beijing had Juan Antonio Samaranch, president of the International Olympic Committee, exert pressure upon other members. What was originally to have been a secret ballot became an open vote. The countries which supported Kaohsiung but feared retaliation by China had no choice but to vote for Pusan, South Korea. Kaohsiung lost to Pusan by a vote of 37-5.
When it needs others' backing, Beijing will mouth the sweetest words. But "politics first" seems to win in most situations, as evident during Kaohsiung's bid and when former president Lee Teng-hui (
However, the recent "City-to-City Forum" (
In 1990, Taiwan demonstrated its goodwill by supporting Beijing's Asian Games. At that time, despite the international economic sanctions imposed on the PRC because of the Tiananmen Square massacre, some businesspeople from Taiwan continued to invest in China. Cross-strait relations, however, did not improve. Indeed, China repaid Taiwan by performing large-scale military drills and launching ballistic missiles near the island.
If the PRC believes in nationalism, it should discard Marxism-Leninism. How is that the PRC government can have slaughtered tens of millions of Chinese? How is it that the Tiananmen massacre could occur? How can it be possible that President Jiang Zemin (
Beijing should host the Olympics -- with Taiwan's help -- but not now. Beijing must first build a peaceful, fair, humane, corruption-free country and then it will have a truly patriotic image.
Paul Lin is a political commentator currently based in New York.
Translated by Jackie Lin
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