Taiwanese officials are poised to boycott next month’s Beijing Winter Olympics, an official with knowledge of the matter said yesterday, citing concerns that China would slight Taiwan during the Games.
This year’s Winter Olympics are scheduled to open on Friday next week amid a diplomatic boycott by Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Lithuania, New Zealand, the UK and the US in response to China’s human rights abuses against Uighurs in Xinjiang and crackdowns on democracy advocates in Hong Kong.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said that a Cabinet-appointed task force has determined that Taiwan’s delegation would abstain from the opening and closing ceremonies, and limit its role to looking after the nation’s athletes.
The Ministry of Education is to announce the makeup of Taiwan’s team this week, the official said.
The task force, created by the Executive Yuan, the Ministry of Education and the Mainland Affairs Council, was concerned that the presence of a delegation would give legitimacy to diplomatic slights that Beijing is sure to make against Taiwan, the official said.
The Winter Games is the most significant platform for China to push its propaganda that Taiwan is a part of its sovereign territory, they said.
China has already made known that the order of national teams in the opening ceremony would be determined by a system based on the number and sequence of strokes in the characters that make up their name in simplified Chinese, the official said.
Taiwanese athletes would precede athletes from Hong Kong, which is intended to give credence to Beijing’s claims that Taiwan is Chinese territory, they said.
Taiwan would also be referred to as “Chinese Taipei” in the ceremonies as part of Beijing’s campaign to denigrate the nation on the international stage, they added.
The nation’s intelligence community has said that Beijing intends to display pro-unification messages, refer to Taiwan as “Chinese Taipei” and prominently feature Taiwanese volunteers in its propaganda videos, the official said.
China had set a precedent by boycotting sports events hosted by Taiwan, including the 2009 World Games in Kaohsiung, in which its delegation of 72 athletes was absent from the opening ceremony, they said.
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