Taiwan premier orders probe of speed skater who wore Chinese uniform

2022 Beijing Olympics - Speed Skating - Women's 1000m - National Speed Skating Oval, Beijing, China - February 17, 2022. Huang Yu-ting of Taiwan representing the Chinese Taipei team under official IOC designation in action. REUTERS/Phil Noble

TAIPEI, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang has ordered an investigation into a Taiwanese speed skater who posted a video of herself wearing a Chinese uniform shortly before the Beijing Winter Olympics began.

Huang Yu-ting put the video on her Instagram page but removed it after attracting fierce online criticism in Taiwan, where many people view China, which claims the island as its own territory, as a grave threat to their freedom and way of life.

Huang, one of only four Taiwanese athletes at the Winter Games, later defended herself on Facebook saying "sports is sports" and when competing everyone is "good friends". Those comments prompted further anger towards her in Taiwan.

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In a Saturday statement, Su's office said the premier believed Huang's actions were "extremely inappropriate" and has asked the Education Ministry and the Sports Administration under it to investigate her and give an "appropriate punishment".

Taiwan's Presidential Office added in a separate statement that it supported the "necessary" investigation and punishment.

"Members of the national team represent the country in competitions, and there should not be any controversial words or deeds that damage the nation's honour," President Tsai Ing-wen's spokesperson Xavier Chang said.

Huang, who carried the team flag at the opening ceremony, did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but speaking to reporters in Beijing on Thursday reiterated the uniform had been given to her by a Chinese friend.

"For me, it was just the friendship. She gave it to me, the suit, and I just wore it when I was practicing. I didn't mean anything. I posted the video because I just want to tell everyone that I go to the Olympics. I am happy with that," she said, speaking in English.

The Olympics has only added to tensions between Taiwan and China, though the Games are supposed to put politics aside.

Taiwan's government rebuked China on Friday for using the Games to assert its sovereignty claims over the island, saying the country had "cast a shadow" over the peaceful spirit of the event to spread "propaganda". read more

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Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Muyu Xu in Beijing; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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