I was trying to explain the recent debate over the "name game" in the Olympics with W the other night. The explanation went quite lengthy and I actually stuttered a lot. It’s always quite challenging to explain the history and the politics over the issue of Taiwan Strait. I mean, how do you expect a foreigner to understand the difference between Chunghwa Taipei and Chungguo Taipei?
This article from Los Angeles Times, however, gives a pretty straightforward account of the various political struggles behind the Game.
Every four years, the Summer Olympics give the world not only a display of human athletic achievement but also a chance to assess the ebbs and flows of the globe’s most intractable diplomatic problems.
I like the word "intractable" they choose to describe the subtle yet critical diplomatic situations while the ruling party in Taiwan easily dismissed the controversial name of the Taiwanese delegation:
"China has handled this issue much better than expected. Nobody thought Beijing would be so flexible," said Chong-pin Lin, president of the Foundation on International and Cross-Strait Studies in Taiwan. "The pro-independence advocates have found much less to make a big issue about."
On the other hand, the article points out the not-so-pretty reality:
China also made a small but significant change in the way it refers to Taiwan. It agreed to use the name Zhonghua Taipei, or "Chinese Taipei," a reference to Taiwan’s capital, instead of Zhongguo Taipei, which is traditionally used by mainland Chinese and could be translated as "China’s Taipei."