Feb 06, 2006

Taiwan: US Congressman Blasts MLB over Taiwan

Congressman Tom Tancredo says that Major League Baseball should not follow the example of the International Olympic Committee in dealing with Taiwan

A US congressman has blasted Major League Baseball (MLB) for requiring Taiwan to use the name "Chinese Taipei" when it takes part in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

Representative Tom Tancredo, a Colorado Republican, sent an open letter to MLB Commissioner Bud Selig describing his disappointment over the decision to bow to pressure from China.

"For more than 20 years, because of pressure from the People's Republic of China, athletes from Republic of China (Taiwan) have been forced to compete under the name `Chinese Taipei' in the Olympic Games even though Taiwan is not subject to the control of the unelected government in Beijing," Tancredo wrote.

"Major League Baseball and the World Baseball Classic should not follow the example of the International Olympic Committee by acting as an accomplice in Communist China's illogical and obsessive effort to restrict the freedom and insult the dignity of the 23 million people who live in Taiwan," the congressman wrote.

Unlike the World Series, essentially a US affair, the World Baseball Classic will be the first truly international baseball competition. The Classic is a "16-team tournament sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation [that] will feature the world's best players competing for their home countries and territories for the first time," according to the official Web site.

The tournament begins on March 3, when Taiwan faces South Korea at the Tokyo Dome in Japan.

"It is unfair and inappropriate to treat Taiwan[ese] citizens this way and it is an indignity to ROC athletes who work just as hard as Cuban athletes, for example -- athletes whose full participation you worked quite diligently to ensure," Tancredo wrote.

The congressman was referring to an earlier controversy, in which the US government reportedly intended to use archaic Cold-War era anti-communist regulations to ban the Cuban baseball team from participating in the tournament. After intense lobbying by baseball fans, the Cuban team will be allowed to compete.

Representatives from Major League Baseball were unavailable for comment as of press time.

Several Taiwanese baseball players are members of major league teams in the US, and "as many as 10 players currently tied to Major League organizations" could play for Taiwan's team during the tournament.

The Colorado Rockies -- the home team for the district Tancredo represents -- has two players from Taiwan. Both are pitchers: Tsao Chin-hui, a 24-year-old from Hualien, and Luo Chin-lung, a 20-year-old from Tainan.

"MLB should promote fair play -- which, in the end, is truly what our national pastime is all about," Tancredo's letter said.

Source: Taipei Times