Now Taipei is preparing for one the biggest international events ever to be held there: the 29th Summer Universiade, a competition featuring more than 10,000 university athletes from around the world. The games begin on Saturday and will run through Aug. 30. Subway car floors have been decorated to resemble swimming pools and running tracks, Taiwan Beer has unveiled Universiade-theme bottles, and the event’s mascot — Bravo the Formosan black bear — adorns banners around the city.
But, last week, enthusiasm for the games wobbled when the Taipei government released the online version of the media guide for the Universiade, as edited by the International University Sports Federation, or FISU, which is based in Switzerland and organizes the event. Many people here felt that the guide had taken the erasure of Taiwan to a new level, with not just its delegation, but the island itself, referred to as “Chinese Taipei.’’
Some statements in the English-language guide met with particular ridicule, such as “Chinese Taipei is a special island and its capital Taipei is a great place to experience Taipei’s culture” and “Chinese Taipei is long and narrow that lies north to south.”
In a Facebook post, Taiwan People News said: “Chinese Taipei is a special ‘island’? Taipei is the capital of ‘Chinese Taipei’? Welcome everybody to ‘Taipei, Chinese Taipei!’ Holding a Universiade, do we have to go to such lengths? Do we have to belittle ourselves like this?”
One Facebook user, Yen Ji-yu, wrote: “Do we really want foreigners to see this kind of garbage?”
Taipei’s mayor, Ko Wen-je, who is also chairman of the Taipei Universiade’s organizing committee, told the local news media last week that the committee had written “Taiwan” in its version of those passages, but that FISU had ultimate authority over the text.
According to a statement subsequently released by the Taipei Universiade organizing committee, the committee revised FISU’s geographical references to restore “Taiwan” before delivering the file for printing. As of Wednesday, the printed guides had not been delivered, but in an updated electronic version most references to the island had been changed back to “Taiwan.”
FISU, when asked why it had inserted “Chinese Taipei” to refer to the island in the media guide, said in an emailed statement on Wednesday that it was trying to “achieve a coherent and easily understandable application of the rules established when the Chinese Taipei University Sports Federation was admitted to FISU in 1987, together with those of the I.O.C.’s Nagoya resolution” of 1981 that brought Taiwan into the Olympic fold.
“As a member of the Olympic Movement, FISU is generally bound by the resolution to refer to Taiwan as Chinese Taipei,” FISU said. But, it conceded, “the term Taiwan Island is clearly more appropriate in cases that refer to geography by itself.”
Nevertheless, as of Wednesday, the FISA website retained references to the island as “Chinese Taipei.” Its introduction to the games read: “Located in the northern part of Chinese Taipei in the heart of the Asia-Pacific region, Taipei is a vibrant and strategically important economic and cultural center.”
The wrangling over the island’s name was only the latest international slight for Taiwan. Other recent affronts include Panama severing diplomatic ties with Taiwan, China’s arrest of a rights activist from Taiwan on state subversion charges and the airline Emirates banning Taiwan flag pins on its flight attendants.
Although this year’s Universiade will feature competitors from 141 countries, China, which has made collecting medals in the Olympics and other competitions a national priority, will not be sending teams, although individual athletes will compete.
A Taiwan newspaper, United Daily News, quoted Taipei Mayor Ko as saying that China’s stated reason not to send teams was a scheduling conflict with its own National Games, which run Aug. 27 through Sept. 8 in the northeastern city of Tianjin.
Mr. Ko said he could not speak on behalf of the Chinese government regarding its decision, but that was after suggesting that Beijing was concerned that spectators from Taiwan might become “too passionate.”
Competition between China and Taiwan turned ugly last March at an international Under-18 hockey tournament in Taipei, when some fans from Taiwan jeered the Chinese team. Seconds after China beat Taiwan, 4-0, a Chinese hockey player appeared to skate deliberately into a player from Taiwan, setting off a brawl in which Chinese players brought out a Chinese flag and taunted the spectators, who hurled garbage and obscenities at them.
Continue reading the main story