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Officials vow to protect Taiwan's integrity
Wang Chung-ming
8/5/2004



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Believing that the People's Republic of China has suppressed Taiwan's publicity drive at the upcoming 2004 Athens Olympic Games, government officials said that they will protect Taiwan's sovereignty and dignity by striving for reason.

The Government Information Office spent NT$30 million to launch a "Taiwan on the Starting Line" publicity campaign at the Athens Olympic Games which will open August 13.

Pressure from Beijing

GIO Office Director-General Lin Chia-lung told reporters Thursday that, under pressure from Beijing, the Athens Olympics Organizing Committee asked its advertising contractor in Greece to remove all of Taiwan's publicity posters from 500 luggage carts at Athens International Airport and 50 of the city's electric trams.

Premier Yu Shyi-kun yesterday urged governmental agencies to defend Taiwan's Olympic membership rights.

Yu said, "I have asked the GIO to defend Taiwan's national image and rights in line with the International Olympic Committee regulations."

The GIO has asked its representative stationed in Italy and authorized lawyer to fly to Athens to review the situation and take care of the matter.

Later Lin told reporters that the GIO is still coordinating with the AOOC and is working with the advertising contractors, who are waiting for the final decision.

"The AOOC made its decision under pressure from China, after China failed to place advertisements promoting the "2008 Olympic in Beijing," Lin said.

The GIO has strictly followed the regulations set by the International Olympic Committee in preparing the posters and leaflets to be distributed in Athens, including use of the name "Chinese Taipei" instead of Taiwan, in order not to give Beijing any excuse to protest, Lin said.

Lin added that the GIO hopes the matter will not escalate into a political incident and the publicity drive can proceed smoothly as originally planned.

Foreign Minister Mark Chen said he has instructed the country's representative office in Greece to assist the GIO in defending Taiwan's national sovereignty and dignity.

Chen said, "The basic Olympic spirit lies in peaceful engagement and sportsmanship, which are also most important values for survival in the global village."

"No matter whose invisible hand is behind the incident, oppressing Taiwan's Olympic advertising is not welcomed," Chen said.

Whatever is right and legal

The minister said MOFA's representative office will do whatever is right and legal, adding that he hopes China will not bring politics into the Olympic Games.

Meanwhile, Mainland Affairs Council Vice Chairman Chiu Tai-san said Beijing should refrain from surpressing Taiwan's Olympic publicity campaign.

"China's politically motivated action against Taiwan's non-political activities will create a backlash from the people in Taiwan and hinder civilian exchanges across the Taiwan Strait," he said.

Noting that increased cross-strait athletic, cultural and commercial exchanges will benefit both sides, Chiu urged Beijing authorities to stop boycotting Taiwan's publicity campaign.

As part of the publicity campaign, the GIO was to place full-page color advertisements introducing Taiwan's progress in Time magazine's European edition "Time Europe" and the British Broadcasting Co.'s magazine "BBC on Air" as well as present 30-second TV commercials on BBC from August 10 to 30.

The Chinese Taipei delegation to the Athens Olympic Games will bring with it a large number of stickers, caps and other publicity articles bearing Taiwan logos for distribution.

Taiwan will send its largest-ever delegation to Athens to compete in various sports, including cycling, archery, baseball, swimming, judo, tennis and taekwondo.

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