Monday, August 28, 2006

Beijing's Unsportsmanlike Conduct

Considering that the International Children's Games, which this year were held in Thailand, have as an objective to promote friendship among youth aged 12-15, the Chinese team's behavior vis-à-vis Taiwanese athletes represents a most unfortunate blemish on the event. Chinese sports officials—not children—snatched the Taiwanese flag from the shoulders of two Taiwanese swimming champions as they were walking towards the podium to obtain their gold medals. According to a member of the Beijing delegation, the Taiwanese athletes had left them no choice. Asking if violence was the only way to deal with the issue, a Taiwanese official was reportedly met with a resounding yes from the female members of the Beijing team. Another Taiwanese athlete (seen here), meanwhile, was able to keep her Taiwanese flag as she received her gold medal in Taekwondo. Perhaps the Chinese delegation feared that, given her skills, she would be able to fight back. Doesn't Beijing understand a language other than that of force?

How unfortunate it is that Beijing's aggressive and bellicose stance vis-à-vis Taiwan would seep into games organized to promote harmony among children of different nations. Not only does this provide a bad example to youth, it demonstrates how irresponsible the Beijing cadres can become when it comes to the evidently-emotional issue of Taiwan separatism. There is no place for hatred—even less when it comes to the education of children, upon whom the future of cross-Strait relations will eventually rest. If China, through its state-controlled curriculum and actions in the international arena, continues to inculcate hatred, then the future of the Taiwan-China equation will continue to be a threatening one, with no hope for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

One of the many reasons why Israel and Palestine have failed to live peacefully side-by-side includes the teaching of hatred in the classroom on both sides. Children who grow up emulating the actions of their teachers, coaches and parents can only but perpetuate the cycle of hatred. Given that the Taiwanese-Chinese issue is far less complex than the Israeli-Palestinian one, such juvenile bullying is definitely not necessary—but it sure is revealing of the manner in which Beijing approaches the question at all levels, from within the halls of the United Nations to the sports arena in Bangkok.

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