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The team representing China in the Battle of the Year breakdancing competition, apparently dropped out of the competition voluntarily after realising that the Taiwanese dance team would be waving Taiwan’s flag in their item.
This is according to the Taiwanese team taking part in the same competition.
Dance and politics
Battle of the Year, commonly known as BOTY, is an annual international breakdancing competition which began in 1990. Known as the “World Cup of Breakdancing”, it was held in Okinawa, Japan, from Dec. 3 to Dec. 12, 2022.
The team representing Taiwan, Hentai Unity, qualified for the quarterfinals, but came under fire from Chinese netizens after the Chinese team, BombJam China, pulled out from the competition, according to a Facebook post written by the Taiwanese team’s leader, Hsu Li-kang, on the team’s page.
The post was supplemented with various screenshots of netizens' comments on the incident.According to Hsu, the organisers from Japan asked the team on Dec. 3 if they could refrain from waving the Taiwanese flag during the competition, as doing so would result in the Chinese team quitting. The organisers had hoped that the Taiwanese team could cooperate so both parties could stay in the competition.
However, it was already three hours to the competition at the time of the request and the Taiwanese team found it difficult to change the choreography within that short span of time.
Hsu also stated that the Taiwanese team has been displaying Taiwan’s flag in their dance items since 2004 every single year, and that China has also been a participant in previous competitions.
"It's only this year that we have encountered such a situation," he said.
Chinese netizen: China's team faced grievances
Hsu's statement comes around five days after a Chinese Weibo user claimed in a Dec. 3 video that the Chinese team pulled out of the competition following a failed attempt on the part of the Chinese team and Japanese host country to negotiate with the German organisers.
Referring to the Taiwanese team as the "China Taipei" team, he claimed that they were waving a white flag around during rehearsal, and this was noticed by the Chinese team captain, Zheng Yang.
Thinking that the Taiwanese team was trying to "challenge China’s sovereignty", Zheng then tried to discuss with the event organisers, but as they failed to come to an agreement on presumably stopping the Taiwanese team from waving the alleged white flag, the Chinese team then decided to withdraw from BOTY.
The Weibo user also claimed that the white flag was the Taiwanese team's way of declaring "Taiwan's independence" as it allegedly served as a symbol of the Blue Sky with a White Sun, which is the design for the flag of the Republic of China, as well as the opposition party Kuomintang.
He questioned "why politics was brought onto the dance stage", and added that while other breakdancing competitions have been respectful of China’s sovereignty, the organisers of BOTY behaved otherwise.
He ended the video by expressing support for the Chinese team’s move, and said that he supports the "one China principle". Despite incurring losses due to their withdrawal from the competition, he said the Chinese team was right in doing so as they were defending China's stance.
Beijing views Taiwan as an "inalienable" part of the Chinese territory, and has not ruled out the use of force to bring the self-ruled island into the mainland fold.
Both sides disappointed
In a Facebook post by Hentai Unity, Hsu also expressed that he was upset because of the incident as it not only disrupted the team's concentration right before the match -- they eventually came in eighth place -- his friends from the Chinese team had also told him that it has been their lifelong dream to participate in BOTY.
Not being able to compete at the event meant they would miss their only chance to do so after 20 years of training.
He noted that behind the scenes, dancers from both teams are friends who simply hold different views towards the Taiwan issue. His Chinese friend also apparently said when it came down to it, he just "had to choose his country".
Taiwanese just want to make Taiwan proud
Hsu highlighted that his team's dancers just wanted to do their best and make Taiwan proud, without competing under the "Chinese Taipei" label, but rather, under "Taiwan". He also said he accepts that everyone has their own views towards the issue, and hopes that in the future, both sides can dance on the same platform without having to deal with politics.
He also pointed out that the Taiwanese team could potentially face the same problem in future BOTY competitions, and expressed hope that the team’s experience this time would allow the government to pay more attention to the issue, offer greater assistance should similar problems arise, and not let Taiwanese competitors feel alienated by online attacks.
Nevertheless, despite the pressure his team faced from the issue during the competition, he reiterated his stance as a Taiwanese at the end of his post, "As someone who was born in Taiwan, no one can stop us from waving our flag."
"The (Taiwan) flag represents the dignity of the people from this land."
Top image via Facebook/Hentai Unity & Getty/Ryan McVay
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