On Saturday (July 31), Taiwan scripted history by defeating the Chinese athletes in the Men’s Double badminton match and securing a gold medal for their country. The event was historic and politically significant as the Chinese team settled for the silver medal and had to listen to the Taiwanese national flag’s anthem.
Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lin of Taiwan defeated Chinese athletes LI Jun Hui and LIU Yu Chen in two straight sets of 21-18 and 21-12 to secure Gold Medal for their country. It was also Taiwan’s first-ever medal in badminton. However, the most crucial moment came when the Taiwanese team stood on the podium and the Chinese athletes watched the white flag of ‘Chinese Taipei’ rise above China’s flag. And this was followed by the Taiwanese national flag’s anthem.
While taking to Facebook, Wang Chi-Lin wrote, “We’ve made the world see Taiwan. We’ve really done it!!! Introducing myself out loud to the whole world again. I’m Taiwanese badminton player Wang Chi Lin. I am Wang Chi Lin. I am from Taiwan.” While a large portion of his Facebook post was in Mandarin Chinese, he specifically emphasised his national identity in English to send out a clear message.
On the contrary, Chinese Badminton player LI Jun Hui apologised on his Weibo page for coming second in the match. He thanked his coach and ‘the Great Motherland (of China)’ and expressed regret for disappointing those who held high hopes from him. While refusing to acknowledge Taiwan and toeing the Communist Party of China’s (CCP) line, Li Jun Hui added, “Lastly, congratulations to “China’s Taipei Team.” He followed his comment with 3 Chinese flags.
It must be mentioned that Taiwan is forced to represent in the Olympics as ‘Chinese Taipei’ due to pressure from China on the International Olympic Committee (IOC). As such, the Taiwanese national flag anthem is played instead of the country’s national anthem. The lyrics of the song, originally written in the 1930s, were tweaked to suit the Olympic event. Taiwan was barred from participating in the Olympic Games until the IOC passed the 1979 Nagoya Resolution. The country was made to use the name ‘Chinese Taipei’ and use a different flag and anthem at medal ceremonies.