It's that time of the year again. Little League World Series. My native team of Taiwan, winner of a preposterous 17 championships since 1969, is back in Williamsport again.
Uh, make that Chinese Taipei.
Is there a dumber name for Taiwan, the Republic of China, than Chinese Taipei? And never mind the indignities this name has visited upon untold number of teams and athletes from Taiwan. All this, just to placate the insanely monomaniacal government of Communist China.
Chinese Taipei makes as much sense as, say American Ottawa for Team Canada. Or Deutschen Wien (German Vienna), for Team Austria.
Think about this for a moment: Taiwan, or the Republic of China, has been a sovereign nation since either 1912 or 1949, depending on your point of view. The ROC was established in mainland China by Chinese revolutionaries who overthrew the last of China's dynasties, the Qing (Ching) in 1911. In 1949, following its defeat by the People's Liberation Army, the ROC regime, headed by Chiang Kai-shek, essentially set up a government in (permanent) exile in Taiwan, with the capital city in Taipei.
In any event, the People's Republic of China, the Communist outfit that controls all of mainland, has never ruled Taiwan for one second. For the PRC to claim "ownership" of Taiwan is as ridiculous as the United States claiming Canada as a "renegade province."
Further, while the heritage and lineage of Taiwan is undeniably Chinese, the island of Taiwan has been ruled by a mainland Chinese entity for exactly four years since 1895. Germany has ruled Austria for twice as long over the past 100 years (the Anchluss of 1938 made Austria part of Grossdeutschland Reich until the Nazis were crushed in 1945), but does that give the Federal Republic a mandate over Austria now? Don't think so.
So where did this rubbish of Chinese Taipei come about?
To make a long history short, after Taiwan was booted out of the United Nations in 1971, the ROC struggled to maintain diplomatic viability due to a vicious squabble over who's the legitimate government of China. Unlike the Koreas and the Germanys that eventually reached a truce that allowed both sides independent diplomatic standings, that never happened with the "two Chinas." Things got worse for Taiwan as the United States finally abandoned it in 1979 and officially recognized the PRC. As of now, only 24 nations around the world have embassies in Taipei.
As PRC gained political clout, it became increasingly difficult for Taiwan's athletic teams to compete internationally under the banner of China, which they did until the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the two Chinese delegations reached a settlement in 1979 that allowed teams from Taiwan to compete as Chinese Taipei, as a compromise.
This insulting offer compelled Taiwan to compete with the idiotic moniker, with its Olympic Committee banner as the flag, in lieu of the national flag, and the "Flag-Raising Song" in lieu of its national anthem, to be played when occasions warrant.
I experienced this first-hand in 1984 during the Olympics in Los Angeles. It was a lousy feeling, worse than a man without a country -- it's like a man with a country but can't say what it is. In 1996, during the Olympics in Atlanta, security personnel confiscated flags from Taiwanese spectators in arenas because they weren't "approved" by the IOC. Keep in mind, this was on American soil.
During the World Baseball Classic in 2006, the official logo of the tournament intentionally left out one of its participants. If you guessed it correctly, I have some Chinese Taipei souvenirs for you!
While various sports organizations have adopted this approach to kowtow to China, it really befuddles me why the media is buying into this crap. Listening to announcers on ESPN talk about Taiwanese Little Leaguers as "the kids from Chinese Taipei" makes me want to laugh, cry and throw my Chinese Taipei paperweight through the TV screen all at the same time.
There is no place like "Chinese Taipei". Toto. No one has ever come from the land of "Chinese Taipei." Please. Do us all a favor. Call them Taiwanese, people from Taiwan, even Chinese people from Taiwan. Just no more Chinese Taipeisians.