Taiwan party chief threatens Beijing Olympic boycott

In this file photo artists perform during the Beijing 2008 Olympic torch relay route announcement and the unveiling of the Olympic Torch ceremony in Beijing April 26,2007. REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan’s ruling party chairman suggested the island government might boycott the Beijing 2008 Olympics if China keeps treating it as part of its territory rather than as a separate country.

The Democratic Progressive Party, which wants more independence from China, will push for the right conditions to send athletes to Beijing but will not let China use the games as a way to downgrade Taiwan’s status, said Chairman You Si-kun (who formerly spelled his Romanized name as Yu shyi-kun).

“The party hopes the country’s competitors can participate in the Olympic Games, but China still uses the belittlement of sovereignty to put pressure on Taiwan, defining Taiwan as a local government in China,” You said in an interview with Reuters. “This is something we have absolutely no way of accepting.”

You mentioned no specific actions by Beijing but said anything that makes Taiwan appear to be part of China might cause the party to recommend a boycott.

In April, Taiwan rejected the Beijing Olympic torch because the route linked Taipei to Hong Kong, a special region of China.

Taiwan can participate in the Games as “Chinese Taipei”, the result of a compromise reached in the late 1970s to allow mainland China to return to the Olympic movement.

Because of pressure from China, which has widespread diplomatic support for its demands, Taiwan cannot join the United Nations or the World Health Organisation -- restrictions that have further upset the ruling party.

China has seen self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory since the civil war of 1949, when Mao Zedong’s Communists sent their Nationalist rivals fleeing to the island. Officials in Beijing have threatened force to make Taiwan return and said it would never give up its quest for unification.