Taiwan Says It Won’t Send Government Officials to Beijing Winter Olympics

Taiwan Says It Won’t Send Government Officials to Beijing Winter Olympics
Taiwan's national flags flutter beside Taipei 101 at Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Taipei on Oct. 7, 2012. (Mandy Cheng/AFP via Getty Images)
Aldgra Fredly

Taiwan won’t send a government delegation to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, its Mainland Affairs Council said on Jan. 25, making it the latest country to withhold officials’ attendance at the Games.

“Considering the limited number of participants and the previous precedent that our side’s officials were often absent, no official representatives will be sent,” the council said in a statement. Taiwan will instead send a representative from its Olympic committee to the Games, it stated.

The move won’t affect Taiwanese athletes’ planned participation in the Olympics, with at least four athletes having qualified so far.

While the council made no mention of Taiwan’s stance in the U.S.-led diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics, it urged Beijing not to tamper with the tournament through “political factors.”

“We call on this year’s organizers to abide by the ‘Olympic Charter’ and not use political factors to interfere with the competition and suppress and belittle our side. Relevant government units will also be prepared to respond to various emergencies,” it stated, without elaborating.

A senior Taiwan official claimed that authorities in Taipei raised concern that Beijing could “downgrade” Taiwan’s status by putting its athletes alongside those from the Chinese “special administrative region” of Hong Kong at the opening ceremony.

Taiwan’s decision came just days after its defense ministry reported that 39 Chinese aircraft, including a bomber, had crossed its air defense zone on Jan. 23.
According to a map posted by the ministry on Twitter, the aircraft flew in an area to the northeast of the Taiwan-controlled Pratas island. The latest incursion involved 34 J-16 and J-10 fighter jets, one H-6 bomber, and four aircraft with electronic warfare capabilities.

In response, Taiwan scrambled combat aircraft, aired radio warnings, and activated missile systems to monitor the Chinese aircraft, the ministry stated.

Tensions between the self-ruled island of Taiwan and the regime in Beijing have been escalating. China claims Taiwan as part of its territory and has vowed to conquer the island by force if necessary.

Taiwan competes in most sporting events, including the Olympics, as “Chinese Taipei” at the insistence of Beijing, which sees democratically governed Taiwan as part of “one China” and inviolable Chinese territory.

No Taiwanese officials attended the 2008 Beijing Summer Games, although three senior politicians did. While Digital Minister Audrey Tang was scheduled to attend last year’s Tokyo Games, her trip was canceled because of coronavirus concerns.

Several Western countries, led by the United States, have announced a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Games, which begin next week, in protest of the Chinese regime’s “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang.”

The countries taking part in the diplomatic boycott all are allowing their athletes to compete.

Frank Fang and Reuters contributed to this report.
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