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Man carrying ROC flag protests NYC group's shift in loyalty

2018/08/20 21:06:37

Zhou Xiaotang (周小棠)

New York, Aug. 19 (CNA) A Chinese man carrying an ROC flag shouted "Long Live the Republic of China (ROC)" during a flag-raising ceremony Sunday in front of the Soo Yuen Benevolent Association (SYBA) to protest its switch of affiliation from Taipei to Beijing.

The move by 19-year-old Zhou Xiaotang (周小棠) came as the organization, one of the oldest groups serving ethnic Chinese overseas, held the ceremony to mark the 90th anniversary of the building where it is headquartered in New York.

In past decades, the SYBA has raised the flag of the ROC, the formal national name of Taiwan.

But this time around, it hoisted the five-star red flag of the People's Republic of China -- underscoring a shift in its political loyalty from Taipei to Beijing.

After the ceremony was over, Zhou continued to hand out leaflets and small ROC flags to passers-by near the building to show his backing for the ROC, which used to encompass all of mainland China before shifting to Taiwan when the Nationalists lost the Chinese Civil War to the Communists in 1949.

Zhou, who emigrated to America with his parents two years ago, claimed that he is a follower of the ROC.

He said he gained an understanding of the Three Principles of the People -- the ideological underpinning of the political philosophy espoused by ROC founding father Sun Yat-sen (1866–1925) -- through speeches given by Chinese writer Xin Haonian (辛灝年) on the internet.

"The five-star red flag represents the Beijing regime. But I identify with the democratic political system broached by Mr. Sun," he said. "This is why I'm here today to express my opposition (to (Beijing)."

Zhou said he made all the ROC flags by himself and that it was his personal decision to stage the protest.

"Some people tried to ask me to leave or take away the flags," Zhou said, but he was resolved to continue the protest with his partners on the other side of the street.

"Even if I were alone here, it would represent a ray of hope," he said. "I will continue to move forward even though millions of people are against me."

Meanwhile, Wu Ruixian (伍瑞賢), chairman of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA), which stands next to the Soo Yuen Benevolent Association and comprises over 60 overseas Chinese groups in America, said his association will continue to hoist the ROC flag.

"Money cannot buy us," he said, noting that "two-thirds of these affiliated groups are supportive of the ROC."

Wu warned, however, that the situation is changing with the growing number of immigrants from China at a time when China is emerging as a world power.

He urged other overseas associations to raise the ROC flag year round as the CCBA does, not just on holidays.

"We must make it clear that we respect our country." he said.

Andrew Yang (楊光彬), deputy representative at Taiwan's representative office in New York, said he was saddened by the SYBA's change of flag, and promised to better serve overseas ethnic Chinese to cement their long-time affiliation to the ROC.

(By Ozzy Yin and Flor Wang)