China’s bullying of Taiwan has only incurred further ill feeling toward its communist regime and pushed more countries to side with Taiwan, as shown by an uproar involving the International Association for the Development of Apnea (AIDA).
The association removed Taiwan’s flag during a live broadcast of the Individual Depth Freediving World Championship in Cyprus on Tuesday. Although it apologized two days later, AIDA Taiwan said it was given two options: leave the space for the flag empty or compete under the banner of “Chinese Taipei.”
Backing AIDA Taiwan, AIDA Japan asked the association to remove its flag from the livestream as well, a move followed by the delegations from Australia, Croatia, France, Germany, Slovenia, South Korea, Russia, the US and the Netherlands.
It is worth noting that the delegation from Russia, a country considered to have close ties with China, also joined the call. While the sports delegations’ gestures might not necessarily represent the foreign policies of their governments, they demonstrated that a sporting attitude — literally or metaphorically — is predicated on fair competition, not bullying.
AIDA Japan described its move as “the only small resistance we can make against the horrible political interference,” yet the significance of the resistance is absolutely not small. By naming the injustice that befalls Taiwan, the 10 foreign delegations demonstrated their resolve not to bow to the Chinese interference that has become a banal evil at international events.
Following the incident, the association’s credibility might be questioned for good. The introduction on its Web site states: “Aida is an organization of freedivers comprised of an international assembly who vote by the democratic process. Each national member has one vote.” How ironic.
The Taiwanese divers had in August encountered travel-document problems before leaving for Cyprus. The Cypriot government’s online disembarkation form for foreigners did not list “Taiwan” as a nationality option, nor did it recognize Taiwan’s international COVID-19 vaccination certificate. Officials at the Taipei Representative Office in Greece reportedly recommended that the divers not identify themselves as having been vaccinated against COVID-19 to help avoid problems upon arrival.
Meanwhile, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on China’s national day on Friday sent a one-day record of 38 military aircraft into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ), surpassing the previous record of 28 set on June 15.
Although the frequency of PLA aircraft incursions fluctuates, Beijing is obviously pushing the boundaries of its aircraft activities farther into the west Pacific, sapping the energy and resources of Taiwan’s air force, which does not provoke the PLA and responds passively.
The Chinese government did not help maintain international peace and order as its Ministry of Foreign Affairs so often claims to do. Rather, it marked its national day by flexing its military muscle by threatening Taiwan and other neighboring countries, which did not pass unnoticed internationally.
As Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) wrote on Twitter yesterday: “Oct. 1 wasn’t a good day. The PLAAF flew 38 warplanes into Taiwan’s ADIZ, making it the largest number of daily sorties on record. Threatening? Of course. It’s strange the PRC doesn’t bother faking excuses anymore.”
China’s Taiwan Affairs Office on the eve of China’s national day issued a statement of more than 1,200 words to denounce Wu, enumerating his “deceptive” remarks advocating Taiwanese independence, even describing him as a “weeping fly.”
Was the denouncement part of Beijing’s national day celebrations? Although that is uncertain, we do know that Taiwan’s Double Ten national day celebrations every Oct. 10 highlight democracy and friendship through merry festivities.
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