The ROC Flag under the Tokyo Dome
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
March 12, 2013
Summary: The sea of ROC national flags displayed at the WBC match offers us a
lesson. At one time, some civil servants would refuse to swear
allegiance to the ROC national flag. Now we have people across the
nation, standing beneath the red, white, and blue ROC national flag,
cheering the Chinese Taipei team on. Does the Republic of China
represent the mainstream? Just look at the sea of ROC national flags at
the Intercontinental Stadium or Tokyo Dome for your answer. After all,
no one can divide the fans. No one dares divide the fans. The ROC
national flag can hold its own.
Full Text below:
The Chinese Taipei team has never performed better than it did at this year's World Baseball Classic (WBC). The Republic of China (ROC) national flag has never been more visible than it was, from the Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium to the Tokyo Dome, at this year's game.
The ROC national flag is controversial. For decades, Green Camp supporters never displayed a single ROC national flag at their rallies. One time, when Mainland VIPs visited, the ROC government actually hid the ROC national flag. Every year, on New Years Day, the government holds a flag-raising ceremony in front of the Presidential Palace. The lines between Blue and Green, official and civilian are clear. During this year's WBC games however, the appearance of the ROC national flag was totally spontaneous. The sea of flags, brought to the games by fans on their own initiative, took on a life of their own. They generated heat. They transcended Blue vs. Green political divisions. They connected viscerally with the people. The "Mexican wave" that accompanied the ROC national flag remains vivid in our memory.
When the audience waved flags their motive was non-political. They merely wanted to proclaim who they were among the fans in the stands. Otherwise, how would anyone know? But the sea of flags inadvertently offered some major revelations about politics on Taiwan, and future cross-Strait relations. The impacts are subtle but profound. One of the most important is the unwitting establishment of a precedent for future Olympic games.
The ROC withdrew from the United Nations and thereby lost membership in the Olympics in 1971. In 1981, according to the "Olympic Model," the ROC was reinstated, and represented by the five ringed Olympic flag. The ROC national flag subsequently disappeared from Olympic venues. The International Olympics Committee (IOC) adopted the Olympic flag. Beijing also forbade sports fans in the grandstands from waving ROC national flags. The Atlanta and Sydney Olympic tickets even stated that fans were not permitted to bring flags other than delegation flags into the venues. As a result, disputes arose over sports fan's personal flags. Even high school students took part in the IOC disputes on gaming venues. These venues were of course not under IOC jurisdiction. During the 2001 Asian Women's Soccer Cup and 2005 Asian Figure Skating Cup, the host city was Taipei. Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou said he "did not recommend audience members bringing ROC national flags into the venues." He said "The organizers must abide by the IOC model." Ma Ying-jeou is still being criticized for the position he took back then.
In 2008, the Beijing Olympic torch was initially scheduled to come to Taiwan. But rumors emerged that the IOC, under pressure from Beijing, would forbid the display of the ROC national flag along the streets of Taipei. It was as if all of Taiwan was subject to the Olympic model. As a result, both the ruling and opposition parties, as well as the general public, lashed back. As a result, during the 2008 presidential election campaign, presidential candidate Ma Ying-flag set forth "Five Principles for the Display of the ROC National Flag and the Singing of the ROC National Anthem." He proposed that henceforth a distinction would be made between event organizers and sports fans. Later Ma Ying-jeou was elected president. During the 2009 World Games in Kaohsiung, and the Taipei Deaflympics, the IOC model was adopted for the event organizers, but sports fans would be allowed to wave whatever flag they wished. Since then, there have been few disputes during international competitions.
The World Baseball Classic follows this "event organizers vs. sports fans" model. The WBC match is sponsored by Major League baseball organizations in the US. It is also sponsored by baseball organizations in Japan and South Korea. Mainland China is a participant (Group A). Group B preliminary rounds are held in Taichung. As a result the match has become a "Taiwan, Mainland, US, and Japan" gala event. This match was an international event. It attracted considerable attention. The Intercontinental Stadium telecast attracted over 10 million viewers. The showdown between Taiwan and Japan at the Tokyo Dome sold out. The ROC national flag flew in the stands under the Tokyo Dome. This offers us an even better precedent for the "IOC model."
The Blue and Green camps on Taiwan remain deadlocked. The two sides of the Taiwan Strait seek continued peace. This evolution is something that all four participants should contemplate. First, consider cross-Strait relations. In 2005, Ma Ying-jeou clung to the old IOC model. During the Beijing Olympics of 2008, Beijing insisted that no ROC national flags be displayed along the Olympic torch route. But as a result of the 2008 presidential election, the ROC national flag reappeared under the Tokyo Dome. On this issue, the two sides achieved cross-Strait consensus. The more the ROC national flag is held high, the more enduring peace between the two sides is possible. When Beijing attempted to prevent display of the red, white, and blue ROC national flag, it merely increased alienation on Taiwan. Today baseball fans on Taiwan have show their heartfelt support for the red, white, and blue ROC national flag. Today, it should be easier to understand this newspaper's "Glass Theory." Taiwan is the water. The Republic of China is the glass. As long as the glass remains intact, the water remains contained. Once the glass is shattered, the water spills out everywhere.
The sea of ROC national flags displayed at the WBC match offers us a lesson. At one time, some civil servants would refuse to swear allegiance to the ROC national flag. Now we have people across the nation, standing beneath the red, white, and blue ROC national flag, cheering the Chinese Taipei team on. Does the Republic of China represent the mainstream? Just look at the sea of ROC national flags at the Intercontinental Stadium or Tokyo Dome for your answer. After all, no one can divide the fans. No one dares divide the fans. The ROC national flag can hold its own.
The Chinese Taipei team's victory at the WBC match was not complete. But the enthusiasm shown by sports fans will save the ROC national flag.
2013.03.12 02:51 am