Chinese Olympic Firms Deny Abuse

June 10, 2007 at 8:02 pm | Posted in China, News, Olympics, Taiwan, 台灣, 台湾, 奥运, 奧運, 新聞, 新闻, 中国, 中國 | 1 Comment

Michael Bristow in Guangdong, June 10 2007 BBC News

Chinese firms awarded lucrative contracts to produce merchandise related to the Beijing Olympics next year have denied claims they exploit their workers.

They have been accused of employing child labour, paying wages that are below the legal minimum and ignoring safety standards.

But two out of the four firms cited in a report published by an alliance of trades unions, non-governmental organisations and labour groups say they treat their workers well.

Perhaps the most serious accusations in the report relate to Lekit Stationery, a Taiwanese company that has been operating in the city of Dongguan, in Guangdong province, for the last 20 years.

According to the report, Lekit, which makes paper cups, notebooks and stickers adorned with Olympic motifs, employed children and forced them to work up to 13 hours a day.

“It’s not true,” company manager Michael Lee told the BBC. “We work for some of the best brand names in the world and they check our company every month.”

To prove his point, Mr Lee produced a framed certificate that had been hanging on an office wall. It was from a well-known Western stationery company and praised Lekit for its high “standards and practises in dealing with workers and their working environment.”

“It’s not worth it for us to hire 20 or 30 underage workers to increase our capacity. We would lose too much,” said Mr Lee.

He said the factory’s 420 workers earned a basic monthly salary of around 700 yuan (£46; $91). Overtime is paid at time and a half. Dormitory accommodation is free and the firm charges employees 6 yuan a day (£0.40; $0.80) for three meals.

In a bid to further convince the BBC that his company abides by the rules, Mr Lee conducted a tour of his neat-looking factory. It was Sunday, so only a handful of well-dressed workers were folding, stacking and collating paper products.

“There’s complete compliance,” the manager said as he led the tour past employees sitting next to fans that cooled them as they worked.

Outside the factory gates it was impossible to find anyone who could verify the claim that children had been employed at the firm…

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Taiwan Rejects China’s Torch Relay Plans

April 26, 2007 at 6:42 pm | Posted in China, 體育, News, Olympics, Politics, Sports, Taiwan, 台灣, 台湾, 奥运, 奧運, 政治, 新聞, 新闻, 中国, 中國, 体育 | 4 Comments

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Stephen Wade in Beijing, April 26 2007 Yahoo! News/AP

China’s grandiose plans for the torch relay, the high-profile prelude to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, have been engulfed in conflict by an old political rival — Taiwan.

Within hours of Beijing’s announcement Thursday of what would be the longest torch relay in Olympic history — an 85,000-mile, 130-day route that would cross five continents and scale Mount Everest — Taiwan rejected its inclusion.

“It is something that the government and people cannot accept,” Tsai Chen-wei, the head of Taiwan’s Olympic Committee, said in the Taiwanese capital, Taipei.

The episode underscores the deep mistrust between Beijing and Taipei, antagonists in an unresolved civil war, and how entwined the Olympics become with politics…

“The Beijing 2008 torch relay will, as its theme says, be a journey of harmony, bringing friendship and respect to people of different nationalities, races and creeds,” IOC president Jacques Rogge said at the ceremony. Nevertheless, both Beijing and Taiwan hoped to use the torch relay to bolster political agendas: for Beijing, that Taiwan is part of Chinese territory, and for Taiwan that it is independent.

To that end, Taiwan wanted to participate as part of the international route — with the torch entering and departing the island via nations other than China. China would like the island run to be part of the domestic route…

This didn’t come as a surprise to me. On the other hand, I was actually surprised by Taiwan’s original compromise of allowing the torch to leave for Hong Kong or Macao, both of which are PRC held territories. For those who think Taiwan is making a big deal out of nothing and complicating the spirit of the Olympics with politics, think again. With the amount of publicity that comes from hosting the Olympics, it’s obvious which side stands to benefit the most from such an arrangement.

Taiwan Offers Compromise for China-Bound Olympic Torch

April 14, 2007 at 6:03 pm | Posted in China, 體育, News, Olympics, Politics, Sports, Taiwan, 台灣, 台湾, 奥运, 奧運, 政治, 新聞, 新闻, 中国, 中國, 体育 | Leave a comment

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Taipei, April 13 2007 USA Today/AP

Taiwan is offering a possible compromise in the long-running dispute over its place on the route of the Olympic torch going to the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing.

Chen Kuo-yi, secretary general of the Taiwan Olympic Committee, said Friday his group had told the Beijing Olympics Organizing Committee it would accept a route that moves the torch from one International Olympic Committee member, such as South Korea, through Taiwan to another IOC member, such as the Chinese territory of Hong Kong.

In previous discussions, China has pressed for Taiwan to be treated as a domestic location rather than a foreign entity, and has tried to sandwich it between two Chinese areas…

In its comments on the torch route, Taiwan has emphasized its separateness from the mainland — in keeping with the independence-minded policies of the government of President Chen Shui-bian — and has pushed for a route that reflects that stance.

Chen Kyo-yi said he would accept a route that takes the torch from South Korea to Taiwan to Hong Kong. “Hong Kong is an IOC member,” he said. “We would certainly be willing for the torch to go from here to there.”

Beijing could find that route attractive because of Hong Kong’s status as a Chinese territory. That status could allow it to claim that the torch had moved in a straight domestic line — from Taiwan to Hong Kong to the mainland.

Taiwan Defends Its Diplomatic Offensive in St Lucia

March 24, 2007 at 11:41 am | Posted in China, News, Olympics, Politics, Taiwan, 台灣, 台湾, 奥运, 奧運, 政治, 新聞, 新闻, 中国, 中國 | 1 Comment

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Mar. 24 2007 Playfuls.com/DPA

Taiwan, fighting a tough battle to win over St Lucia from China, on Saturday defended its diplomatic offensive in the Caribbean island nation as legal and transparent…

“Taiwan’s diplomacy is based on the principle of winning wide friendship. Our foreign minister’s visiting St Lucia is quite significant,” the Central News Agency (CNA) quoted Foreign Ministry Spokesman Wang Chien-yeh as saying.

Regarding claims by some countries that Taiwan was using aid to win St Lucia ‘s recognition, thus prompting China to hike its aid and resulting in dollar diplomacy, Wang said many Western countries did the same thing, so it was unfair for them to criticize Taiwan. “Our foreign assistance is supervised by the parliament and is transparent,” he told CNA…

Chinese Ambassador Gu Huaming lodged a protest with St Lucia, saying its receiving the Taiwan delegation was totally unacceptable to the government and people of China. Taiwan has been seeking to restore diplomatic ties with St Lucia, which has recognised China since the return to power of the Caribbean nation’s opposition leader Compton in December 2006.

Compton, 82, leader of the United Workers Party and the so-called father of St Lucia’s independence from Britain in 1979. He led St Lucia for 29 years, between 1964 and 1979 and again from 1982 to 1996. Under his rule, St Lucia opened diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1984 but cut ties in order to recognize China in 1979, when Kenny Anthony became prime minister.

Now that Compton is back in power, there seems to be willingness from both St Lucia and Taipei to resume ties, causing China to take steps to protect its current diplomatic relationship. China recently pledged more aid, including offering to help build an industrial zone and a sports stadium, in a bid to match Taiwan’s offer of aid.

If St Lucia resumes ties with Taiwan, it will be the 25th country to recognize Taiwan, formally known as the Republic of China. Some 170 countries recognize China or the People’s Republic of China and see Taiwan as its breakaway province. While Taiwan accepts the dual recognition of both Taipei and Beijing by foreign countries, China upholds a “one-China” policy and cuts ties as soon as a foreign ally has opened ties with Taiwan.

Dollar diplomacy is the only way for Taiwan to survive internationally and maintain its legitimacy as a country. I don’t see how this problem can be solved in the near future. As long as China upholds it one-China policy, Taiwan will have to resort to paying for friends.

Despite China’s one-China policy, there is some truth to Taiwan’s assertion that China is the one pushing the island towards formal independence. If Taiwan was able to maintain its international presence as the Republic of China, there most likely wouldn’t even be a Taiwan Issue today. Only after Taiwan began to lose its diplomatic allies to the PRC did most Taiwanese start to ask themselves, “If the world recognizes the PRC as China, yet we are not part of the PRC, so does that mean Taiwan is not part of China?” This mindset led to the reemergence of the Taiwanese identity, which has been strongly reinforced by China’s military threats and the conspicuous manner in which the PRC goes about degrading the status and image of Taiwan within the international arena.

In reality and for all practical matters, the relationship between the ROC and PRC is analogous to the relationship between the two Koreas, namely the ROK and DPRK. Despite the presence of two Koreas and the hostilities that exist between them, the two sides agree that there is in essence only one Korea and that the two countries would ultimately be reunified. Both sides still claim sovereignty over the territory administered by one another and have no official diplomatic relations, yet both enjoy international diplomatic recognition. If such an arrangement can work for the two Koreas, why can’t there be two Chinas? Plus, what good is the one-China policy when it clearly has the opposite effect?

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