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Taiwan condemns Qatar World Cup organisers for listing fans as Chinese

Taiwanese officials denounce the move as 'unacceptable' mixing of politics and sport
This picture taken on 10 May 2022 shows a view of the FIFA World Cup Trophy while on display at the Katara cultural village in Qatar's capital Doha (AFP)
The Fifa World Cup trophy on display at the Katara cultural village in Qatar's capital, Doha, on 10 May 2022 (AFP)

Taiwan denounced Qatar on Wednesday for saying Taiwanese fans attending the 2022 World Cup in Doha may be listed as Chinese, in an apparent recognition of Beijing's claims of sovereignty over its neighbour.

The Qatari application system for fan identification cards, which also serves as a visa to enter the country, had no listing for Taiwan on Tuesday. A Qatari official for the 2022 World Cup, meanwhile, said that Taiwanese fans may choose China as their country of origin during the application process. 

'The foreign ministry again calls on the organisers of the World Cup to not allow improper political factors to interfere with simple sports activities'

- Taiwan Foreign Ministry

On Wednesday, the system added “Taiwan, Province of China” on the list, which angered Taiwanese officials, but it also included a Taiwanese flag, which could trigger Chinese opposition.

Taiwan’s foreign ministry spokesperson Joanne Ou said it was "unacceptable to belittle our country" and requested that organisers “immediately correct their ways”.

"The foreign ministry again calls on the organisers of the World Cup to not allow improper political factors to interfere with simple sports activities and tarnish sporting venues that value fair competition and emphasise the spirit of the athletes," she said.

World Cup organisers and the Qatari government have yet to comment on the issue.

China views Taiwan as a breakaway region that is part of China, while Taiwanese leaders claim that it is a sovereign state. Qatar and Taiwan have no diplomatic relations, as Doha, like most of the world, only recognises China's sovereignty.

In most international sporting events Taiwan participates under the name of "Chinese Taipei". 

When asked about the complaints made to the Qatar World Cup organisers by Taiwanese officials, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said he wished to reiterate that "Taiwan is part of China".

"Maintaining the one China principle is a basic norm of international relations and is the widely held consensus of the international community,” Wang told reporters at a regular briefing in Beijing on Wednesday.

China often pressures countries and companies to refer to Taiwan as "Taiwan, Province of China" or "Taiwan, China" to support its sovereignty claims.