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Chinese Hardware Show Boycotted

August 16, 2000

CHICAGO (AP) _ Exhibitors from about 300 Chinese hardware companies boycotted the National Hardware Show after organizers displayed the Taiwanese flag.

Chinese representatives said their government ordered them to shut down late Monday _ two days before the show was scheduled to end _ to protest the display.

``This erroneous action of the show organizers runs counter to the U.S. government’s One China policy and offers the Taiwan authorities a stage to create two Chinas,″ read a typed statement hung in front of the Chinese Hardware Delegation. ``This is what the Chinese delegation is resolutely against and will never accept.″

China and Taiwan have been at odds since the communist takeover of the mainland 51 years ago. China still views Taiwan as part of its territory and wants Taiwan to declare that it is, too.

The flag was part of a ``decorative display″ of flags from the more than 100 countries represented at the hardware show, organizers said. A memo distributed to exhibitors explained that if a country was represented at the show, its flag would be displayed.

``The display of flags is a decorative gesture that should not be construed as a political statement,″ the memo said. The Chinese government apparently disagreed.

``The government tells us to (shut down) and we have to be obedient,″ said Su Runxia, sales manager of a Chinese diamond tool company. Crowds of prospective buyers strolled through the booths of Taiwanese exhibitors just a few feet away.

Messages to the Chinese Consulate General in Chicago were not returned Tuesday.

Some of the Chinese exhibitors said they had nothing against the Taiwanese exhibitors _ nor Taiwan’s flag hanging at the show.

``We are business people, they are business people″ Runxia said.

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