OLYMPICS/Taiwan protests Chinese official's 'inappropriate' remark at Beijing Olympics

02/19/2022 02:13 PM
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Yan Jiarong. China News Service photo
Yan Jiarong. China News Service photo

Taipei, Feb. 19 (CNA) The Taiwan government on Friday criticized a Chinese official for suggesting Taiwan is a part of Chinese territory at a press briefing of the Winter Olympic Games, describing the remark as "inappropriate" political propaganda.

In a departure from standard practice, Yan Jiarong (嚴家蓉), a spokeswoman for the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG), asserted the country's position over the Taiwan issue when asked about Taiwan on Thursday.

"What I want to say is that there is only one China in the world. Taiwan is an inalienable part of China. This is a widely recognized principle of international relations and a consensus in international society," said Yan, who was formerly the Chinese envoy to the United Nations.

She also responded defiantly to questions concerning the Xinjiang region, calling reports about the forced labor camp in the region "a lie" fabricated by "some groups with malicious intentions."

She was speaking during the press briefing attended also by International Olympic Committee (IOC) spokesman Mark Adams.

In a statement issued on Friday, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), Taiwan's top government agency handling cross-strait relations, said "the people of Taiwan firmly oppose" Beijing's one China principle, which expresses the idea that both Taiwan and China are part of one country.

"The Republic of China is a sovereign state and Taiwan has never been part of the People's Republic of China," MAC said, adding that it condemned China for asserting its politics to interfere with international sports activities.

At the same time, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) rejected the official's claims as "untrue" and said it "undermined the integrity of Taiwan's sovereignty."

MOFA also criticized China for spreading "inappropriate" political propaganda at the Olympic venue, saying it had violated the rule of political neutrality enshrined in the Games' charter.

According to the Olympic Charter, "no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas."

Yan's comments have also caused concern from the IOC President Thomas Bach, who previously sidestepped questions about Xinjiang at the opening ceremony of the Games, citing political neutrality.

"We were in touch with BOCOG immediately after this press conference," Bach said following the BOCOG official's comments on Thursday, according to a New York Times report.

"And both organizations, BOCOG and the I.O.C., have restated the unequivocal commitment to remain politically neutral as it is required by the Olympic charter," the president said, without directly condemning China.

(By Huang Ya-shih and Teng Pei-ju)

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