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Asian Games

Asian Games: White flag! Chinese Taipei or Taiwan - what’s in the name?

On Saturay, Taiwan, also known as Chinese Taipei, appeared in the Games with a white flag. The country's flag, traditional red and a blue sky holding a bright sun, is not allowed by China.

Asian Games: White flag! Chinese Taipei or Taiwan - what’s in the name?

The flag on the left is the flag carried in sporting events by the Taiwanese athletes while the flag on the right is the flag of Taiwan.


Shourya Mehta

Published: 23 Sep 2023 12:59 PM GMT

There is a saying, 'What's in a name?'. But at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, the issue of name popped up a controversy.

On Saturday, Taiwan, also known as Chinese Taipei, appeared in the Games with a white flag. The country's flag, the traditional red and blue sky holding a bright sun, is not allowed by China because of the strained history between the two countries. It was for this reason, that Taiwan was not recognized by the International Olympic Olympics. It participated in multilateral events under different names.

The most sustaining of them in Chinese Taipei, which participates in the Games with a flag, containing a blue sky with a white sun emblem with the Olympic rings, encircled by a five-petaled Prunus mei (the ROC's national flower) drawn in red, white, and blue.

Despite being an independent democracy, Taiwan is not recognized by most countries in the world because of China's diplomatic success.

The island nation in the South China Sea with only 23.5 million population is a relatively strong powerhouse in sports in Asia. It finished seventh in the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games.

But at every Olympics and Asian Games, one question is often asked: why can’t this sports-rich country participate in the Games under its flag and original name?

It is simply because of the political drama that goes on in Asia.

China regards Taiwan as a breakaway province, that it is determined to take over if required by the use of force. The island, which marches under a white flag with Olympic rings and is officially known as the Republic of China, is included as Chinese Taipei in the Olympic and Asian Games. It is forbidden to fly its red, blue, and white flag.

It is because of this reason China isolated Taiwan at the global level.

From a political perspective, the One China Policy is a point of contention between China and Taiwan; one sees Taiwan as a vital component of its territory, while the other rejects this assertion and the policy's justification.

Since China successfully isolated Taiwan. The IOC agreed to the country's participation in the Olympics under the name of Chinese Taipei in 1981. Before the compromise, Taiwan was given tons of names from Formosa-China to the Republic of China by the IOC.

The name Taiwan gaining momentum

Currently, the relations between Taiwan and China are at their lowest point in years. But there are increasingly more and more requests to use Taiwan's name once more during the Games. Taiwan transitioned from a dictatorship to one of Asia's most progressive democracies during the 1990s. Taiwanese identity has become more distinct, particularly among the younger generation.

In 2018, a vote on whether the name "Chinese Taipei" should be altered prompted concerns from Beijing and the IOC. Top athletes opposed the referendum because they were concerned about being disqualified from important athletic competitions, which contributed to its defeat.

Still, a crucial point of view to consider is for citizens of any nation, being recognized on the global stage is an accomplishment to be proud of, especially when the person who carried out the task is given credit.

However, there is another instance when a certain nation and its champions are consistently kept apart from receiving such honor, and this practice has been going on for years. Every tiny nation has a flag that serves as a representation of it, and when one of its athletes wins a gold medal, flags and anthems are flown in honor of them. Taiwan, however, is the nation in which Gold Medal winners are not accorded the same respect by playing the national hymn or flying the flag when they are recognized.

But who is to blame for imposing such an insult, though? Is it political history, the IOC, or Communist China? However, it is very important to comprehend the anguish and contempt involved when you accomplish something for your country but are not treated with the appropriate respect when doing so. This sensation is more akin to being homeless despite owning a home.

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