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Taiwan Would Welcome Olympic Torch

February 20, 2001

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) _ If Beijing plays host to the 2008 Olympic Games, Taiwan would allow the Olympic torch to pass through the island as long as Beijing doesn’t politicize the event, an official said Tuesday.

``The Olympic torch carries a message of peace,″ said Wu Ching-kuo, a Taiwanese member of the International Olympic Committee. ``It (the torch relay) might make everybody happy.″

Taiwan and China have been ruled separately since they split amid civil war in 1949, but Beijing considers Taiwan a breakaway province and expects it to one day reunify with the mainland.

With China’s consent, Taiwan began to take part in the Olympics in the early 1980s under the name ``Chinese Taipei.″

Political exchanges remain rare between the two sides.

China has not decided whether to let Taiwan help should Beijing win the right to host the Olympics, Beijing’s vice mayor, Liu Jingmin, said earlier Tuesday.

``I think that recently the Taiwanese people have been very enthusiastic about Beijing’s bid,″ Liu said. ``There have also been people who suggested that some events be held jointly with Taiwan.″

Beijing, where Olympic inspectors this week are examining sports facilities, infrastructure and China’s proposal for holding the Olympics, faces competition from Toronto; Paris; Osaka, Japan; and Istanbul, Turkey.

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