The Humiliation of Taiwan

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When you see Taiwan competing in international events like the Olympics or the World Baseball Classic, you’ll notice it goes by the moniker “Chinese Taipei” and its athletes stand for the Chinese national anthem. This isn’t by choice, as “Uncle Popov” reminds us in an excellent piece at the Bleacher Report.

Depending on whom you ask, Taiwan is either a free country, part of an archipelago called the Republic of China (distinct from the People’s Republic of China), the rightful rulers of mainland China (a fairly wacky stance), a client state of China, or the rightful inheritance of the People’s Republic. Obviously, China believes–illegitimately–that it has claim to Taiwan, and because China is more powerful and wields more influence, that’s the global consensus today.

Indeed, most of the world doesn’t recognize Taiwanese sovereignty, and international sports governing bodies–never known for their testicular fortitude when it comes to standing up to the People’s Republic–almost always follow suit. That’s led to some controversy and resistance.

For example, leading up to the inaugural World Baseball Classic in 2006, then U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) blasted MLB for bowing to Chinese pressure and forcing the Taiwanese to compete under the “Chinese Taipei” name, which they’re known by in IOC and even World Trade Organization circles. Tancredo’s efforts, of course, came to grief.

As petty as it sounds, any change in WBC or Olympic policy would be seen by the Chinese as an international incident. Over here? Hell, the governor of Texas can daydream about high treason, and we don’t sweat it too much.

Anyhow, things aren’t likely to change. It would be nice, though, if at the very least journalists and commentators covering these events would make a point of saying/writing “Taiwan” loudly and proudly at every chance.

Baby steps, as they say.

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