Taiwanese Olympian faces punishment for wearing China uniform
TAIPEI: Taiwan’s government has denounced one of its Olympic flagbearers after the speed skater was seen in an online video wearing the suit of the Chinese national team, with one lawmaker calling her attire the “uniform of the enemy”.
China and Taiwan have been at odds for decades as Beijing regards the island as its territory, vowing to seize it one day – by force if necessary.
Self-ruled, democratic Taiwan is often held up as a bastion of liberalism, but authorities have said that Olympian Huang Yu-ting could be punished after she hit a nerve in January when she posted a clip of herself in the Chinese suit.
She removed the video following a barrage of criticism, explaining later that a Chinese friend had given her the uniform and she wore it “for friendship”.
As the Beijing Winter Olympics drew to a close over the weekend, an official said that Huang will be investigated and faces “appropriate punishment” at the orders of Taiwanese Premier Su Tseng-chang.
Su on Monday reiterated that a probe into Huang’s conduct was under way.
“Athletes on the national team … should maintain our national dignity and honour,” the premier told reporters.
“Her conduct was extremely improper and failed to meet public expectations.”
The 33-year-old was among four Taiwanese athletes competing at the Olympics over the last two weeks.
She drew more ire during the Games when she said in an interview with Chinese media that she felt “at home” competing in Beijing.
Huang defended herself on her Facebook page – which she has since deleted.
“Let sports be sports. In sports, we do not distinguish nationalities,” she had written.
“We are all good friends in private.”
A lawmaker from Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party on Sunday said that Huang had worn “the uniform of the enemy”.
“Huang doesn’t give a damn about Taiwan where she was born and raised – she embraces China,” lawmaker Chiu Chih-wei said on Facebook.
Hints also cropped up of Taiwan and China’s political tussle in the lead-up to the Olympics.
A Chinese spokeswoman referred to Taiwan’s delegation as the “China, Taipei” team – a diplomatic departure from the more linguistically ambiguous “Chinese Taipei” used in the international arena to sidestep sovereignty disputes.
Taiwan reacted by calling on the International Olympic Committee to “prevent the interference of any political factors to suppress and belittle (Taiwan’s) status”.
The island’s relations with Beijing have been especially frosty since President Tsai Ing-wen came to power in 2016, as she rejects the stance that the island is part of a single China.
Beijing has ramped up military, diplomatic and economic pressures in recent years – including with a spike in incursions of Chinese war planes into Taiwan’s air defence zone in 2021.