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Taiwan condemns Qatar for ‘politicising’ World Cup amid China spat

SportTaiwan condemns Qatar for 'politicising' World Cup amid China spat

Taipei (The Times Groupe)- Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry criticized the organizers of the World Cup in Qatar on Wednesday for claiming Taiwanese fans may be listed as Chinese, and demanded they not allow “improper political factors” to influence sporting events.

Taiwan is a democratically-governed country that takes issue with China’s claims to sovereignty and, in particular, its attempt to claim Taiwanese people as Chinese.

The Hayya card, which serves as a fan identification card as well as their entry visa to Qatar, is required for all World Cup ticket holders.

Taiwan was not listed as a nationality on the application system Tuesday, and a senior Qatari official said Taiwanese were likely to be listed as Chinese on the card.

On Wednesday, the online system listed “Taiwan, Province of China”, terminology that is equally offensive to Taiwan’s government and its people, though it did display a Taiwanese flag, a symbol anathema to China.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou said it was “unacceptable to belittle our country” and they were asking organizers to “immediately correct their ways”.

“The Foreign Ministry urges the organizers of the World Cup that improper political factors not taint simple sports activities and sporting venues that value fair competition and emphasize the spirit of the athletes,” she said.

Sports organizers should let sports be sports and give fans around the world “a clean World Cup football event”.

World Cup organizers did not immediately respond to the comments. Qatar’s communication office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Taiwan participates in most international sporting events as “Chinese Taipei” to avoid political problems with Beijing.

It has never been to a World Cup finals and lost all eight matches in the second round of the Asian qualifying for the 2022 tournament last year.

Taiwan does not have diplomatic relations with Qatar, which, like most countries, only recognizes China’s government.

China has stepped up its pressure on countries and foreign companies to refer to Taiwan as part of China in official documents and on websites, often using the phrase “Taiwan, Province of China”, or “Taiwan, China”.

Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry, responded to questions about Taiwan’s complaints to the Qatar World Cup organizers by affirming that “Taiwan is part of China”.

“The one China principle is a basic norm of international relations, and it is widely acknowledged by the international community,” Wang told reporters at a regular press briefing in Beijing on Wednesday.

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