Stories behind the name Chinese Taipei
Oct 25, 1971, Chow Shu-kai, Republic of China’s representative to the United Nations, led the R.O.C. delegation to walk out of the UN General Assembly hours before it passed Resolution 2758, which recognised the People’s Republic of China as “the only legitimate representative of China to the United Nations.” He declared in a statement later that the R.O.C., the founding member of the UN and a permanent member of the Security Council, had left the organization it helped create.
Taiwan’s withdrawal from the UN marked a significant point in the nation’s struggle in international relations but the UN is by no means the only front in the struggle. Even after Oct 25, 1971, Taiwan keeps up its uphill battle for international exposure against unrelenting pressures. “Chinese Taipei,” the name used by the nation in the Olympic Games and other international organization and events, told a complicated story of Taiwan’s struggle to stay relevant in the international community.
In 1922, the Chinese Amateur Athletic Alliance, the highest athletic organization in the R.O.C. at the time, renamed itself as the China National Amateur Athletic Federation and filed for acceptance into the International Olympic Committee. The R.O.C. application was approved at the IOC Sessions in Paris the same year and it joined under the name China Olympic Committee. From 1932 to the London Summer Olympics in 1948, the R.O.C. athletes competed at the Games under the China Olympic Committee.
The China Olympic Committee was again invited to send a delegation to the 1952 Games in Helsinki, the first summer Olympics after 1949. However, mirroring its campaign to force the R.O.C. out of the UN, Beijing mulled sending its own “Chinese” delegation to Helsinki to replace the R.O.C.
According to a report by the National Policy Foundation, IOC President Sigfrid Edstrom, under pressure from the USSR, told the R.O.C. that “You may not participate in the Helsinki Games.” After negotiations between the China Olympic Committee and the IOC, the R.O.C. was allowed to send its delegation of track and field and basketball athletes to Helsinki. The R.O.C. basketball team, however, was allowed to compete only under the name “Taiwan,” not “China.” The R.O.C. withdrew from the basketball competitions in protest.
At the 1954 Session in Athens, the IOC accepted the two “Chinese” Olympic Committees: the R.O.C.’s China Olympic Committee and the PRC’s Comite Olympique de la Republique Chinoise. The IOC listed both committees for the 1956 Melbourne Summer Olympics; the PRC withdrew in protest of Taiwan’s participation. In 1958, Beijing announced its withdrawal from the IOC and eight other international sports organizations in a move to force Taiwan out of the IOC.
On May 28, 1959, the IOC issued a resolution removing the China Olympics Committee in Taipei from the IOC on the grounds that the Taipei committee exercised no control over the athletic affairs in all of China, adding that it would consider allowing the R.O.C. organization in if it joined under a different name.
In June the same year, the China Olympics Committee renamed itself the Republic of China Olympics Committee but the name was twice rejected by the IOC. By July 1960, the IOC agreed to take in the R.O.C. committee but recommended it to send delegations under the name “Taiwan” or “Formosa.” Taiwanese athletes participated at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics under the name “Taiwan” but were allowed to wear outfits showing the R.O.C. initials.
In 1968, however, the IOC conceded and Taiwan agreed to rename its national team as the R.O.C. team (also known as China R.O.). After Taiwan’s lost its seat at the UN in 1971, the nation faced even tougher challenges at the IOC. Taiwan athletes flew the national flag at the Games for the final time at the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics. In 1975, the PRC applied to rejoin the IOC but was rejected. Taiwan did not participate in the 1976 Montreal Olympics and the 1980 Moscow Olympics because the host nations recognised mainland China as the sole “Chinese” government and banned the use of the R.O.C. name.
In 1979, the IOC formally reinstated the membership of the PRC Committee but allowed the R.O.C. committee to participate under a different name, flag and anthem. The IOC issued a resolution at Montevideo, Uruguay that accepted the PRC committee as “Chinese Olympic Committee, Peking” and the R.O.C. committee as “Chinese Olympic Committee, Taipei.”
However, under the influence of IOC President L. Killanin, the Montevideo resolution was replaced by the Nagoya Resolution, which recognised the PRC Committee as the Chinese Olympic Committee and allowed its delegations to use the PRC national flag and anthem while renaming the R.O.C. committee as the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee without the right to use the R.O.C. national flag and national anthem.
While Taipei strongly protested and the new resolution and its official complaint was accepted by the IOC, for all intents and purposes the name “Chinese Taipei” under the Nagoya Resolution became the official name for the nation’s team.
Under the mediation of Joao Havelange, president of the international football governing body the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), Taiwan and the IOC agreed to officially recognise the nation’s committee as the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee.
The IOC also rectified the flag and representing symbol delivered by the Chinese Taipei committee. In 1984, Taiwan rejoined the Olympics after more than a decade under the new moniker. The “Olympic model” also became the basis for Taiwan to join other sports tournaments and international events and organizations from Miss Earth, Universiade and the FIFA World Cup to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
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