UK: Taiwan Flag Disappears from London Olympics Street Display

This post is part of our special coverage London 2012 Olympics.

On July 24, 2012, just before the Olympic torch was about to relay across London, the national flag of Taiwan was removed from Regent Street  in the United Kingdom capital. All other national flags are still hanging to welcome representatives to this summer's Games from across the world.

Many Taiwanese feel disappointed about the sudden disappearance of the flag. Facebook user Yi-hao Liao complained [zh]:

哀… 原本還高興一下下的

Sigh…I was happy for a while.

London prepares to welcome the world for the start of the Olympics.

Reddit user lol_oopsie asked why the national flag was removed:

I'm curious to know whether this is London officials panicking, or whether Chinese authorities warned them to take it down. Either way, I think it deserves some attention. All of the Olympic coverage has totally ignored it.

Another reddit user mintytiny tried to give an answer:

Though didn't offer any explanation, yet according to Regent Street Association, they'll replace it with the Olympic flag used to represent Taiwan.
I have to say, this is really lame and any real explanation will be better.

Another Facebook user, Melissa Alexender, made a photo to protest against the removal of Taiwan's national flag:

Melissa Alexender's protest photo, via Facebook.

Melissa Alexender's protest photo, via Facebook.

Underneath the photo, Melissa urges others to email the Regent Street management team, Anastasia, and ask them to put the Taiwan national flag back up. In response to Melissa's call, Kenneth Wong, wrote to the Regent Street Association and posted the reply below Melissa’s photo:

Dear Kenneth

Thank you for your email.

This matter has been raised and I can confirm that the Chinese Taipei Flag will be going up tomorrow evening.

I can ensure you that all competing nations flags will be displayed.

Kind regards

Lucy Turnbull
Regent Street Association Ltd

Melissa Alexender was disappointed by the reply:

We don't want the Chinese Taipei flag but our national flag! Regent Street is not covered by the Network of London Olympic Route neither part of Olympic Stadium, hence, there is no reason to refuse the placement of Taiwanese national flag!

Meanwhile, designer Tammy Lin wrote a light-hearted post making some creative suggestions to rectify the situation, such as smuggling the Taiwanese flag back onto the street, making the flag into a 3D advert or turning it into a QR code.

This post is part of our special coverage London 2012 Olympics.


  • John

    I’m a Brit living in Tainan, Taiwan and am equally angered by the Regents Street event.  The sinister aspect is that even London may already be ruled from Beijing despite the UK government’s attempt to impose martial law for the duration of the games – The Royal Air Force has a shoot-on-sight policy over the city and and security is being handled by the ministry of defence! Do they now get their orders from Beijing too?  At least Taiwan has its own President and government – like any other sovereign republic!

  • Great post, I-fan! Thank you for bringing this to Global Voices!

  • […] on the incident from other media: AFP CNN Daily Herald Global Voices The Guardian London Evening Standard NBC The Southern Taipei […]

  • Chinamoviemagic

    “Taiwan national flag”??? 
    Rather…”Republic of China” national flag

  • ssadfIt’s just sad that they would make a mistake like that. As a Taiwanese who spent more time abroad than in my homeland, seeing our national flag in a foreign country is always prideful. But the fact that they would put it up and take it down is distasteful.
    I know my politics which is more reason why mistakes like this should not be made, either put the politically correct one up or keep the correct one up. Obviously the people up at RSA don’t know their politics as much as they say they do. But I do appreciate their recognition for putting the correct flag up there in the first place.

  • Ifan

    Hi John, thanks for your message. The change of ROC national flag reminds me what happened four years ago in San Francisco. To avoid the protesters (against China), the San Francisco police made the torch relay a joke. At that time, I asked myself if San Francisco government gets their orders from Beijing as well. I believe similar questions will be raised every four years.

    Paula, thanks for your message!

  • guest

    Republic of China in exile at Taipei = Chinese, Taipei
    Taiwanese living in political purgatory
    Chinese government is illegally taking Taiwanese as Chinese and that is why Taiwanese were left out from all the international organization, even WHO during SARS.  Justice for Taiwan. If you consider yourself as Taiwanese, do not let what happen during SARS to happen again. 

    請各位真心台灣的人 救救台灣 不要讓SARS事件重複發生

    • Chinamoviemagic

      Hmmm…one of the best strategies for changing PRC’s mindset and its authoritarian system, and for reducing PRC’s paranoia-producing sense of encirclement by US military bases and “allies”…is to have Taiwan return to PRC…to have courageous progressives from Taiwan enter China Mainland and show themselves as models for “100th Monkey” evolution of Chinese culture, on both sides of the Straits, for morphing  Bo Yang’s “Ugly Chinaman” syndrome into the next step in Chiese history. As Lin Yu Tang wrote some 75 years ago: China has been in a state of “extended adolescence”…adulthood is awaiting Chinese society…”if it has the courage for further SPIRITUAL ADVENTURE.” Given the eco-cidal direction of the global “system”…all beings on this Neo-Titanic Spaceship Earth are facing “spiritual adventure”… See short 4-minute videos on:
      *John Trudell Meets Bo Yang at a Chinese Bus Stop
      * Henry Miller Meets the Chinese Bodhisattva 

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