Taiwan risks Beijing’s wrath with Olympics referendum

3rd September, 2018 09:59:44 printer

TAIPEI: Taiwanese campaigners Monday submitted hundreds of thousands of signatures asking for the island to compete as “Taiwan” and not “Chinese Taipei” in the next Olympics, paving the way for a referendum that will incense Beijing, reports AFP.

China, which still claims sovereignty over self-ruling democratic Taiwan, is particularly sensitive to the island’s use of names, emblems and flags at international events.

These sensitivities—backed up by Beijing’s clout on the world stage—mean Taiwan is forced to compete as “Chinese Taipei” at the Olympics and other international sports competitions.

An organisation called Team Taiwan Campaign for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics collected more than 520,000 signatures, many more than the 280,000 signatures needed for a petition to be put to a public vote.

If vetted and approved by the Central Election Commission, the referendum will be held to coincide with local elections on November 24.

Then, if 25 percent of around 19 million eligible voters across the island vote in favour, and providing the “yes” votes surpass “no” votes, the government must draw up a bill that reflects the results—which then goes to a parliamentary vote.

“I hope the international community will continue to care about Taiwan’s situation so we can be treated fairly,” said athlete Chi Cheng, Taiwan’s first female Olympic medallist who co-led the campaign.