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Published: Saturday September 5, 2009 MYT 9:53:00 PM

China boycotts opening of Taiwan-hosted games

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP): China boycotted the opening ceremony of the Taiwan-hosted Deaf Olympics on Saturday, apparently to protest the presence of Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou at the event.

The move follows a similar boycott by China of the opening ceremonies of the Taiwan-hosted World Games in July.

The Chinese did not say why they were not attending the Deaf Olympics ceremony, but the act is almost certainly related to Ma's role in declaring the games open.

Taiwan and China split amid civil war in 1949 and the communist mainland still views the island as part of its territory.

Because of this claim, Chinese attendance at the ceremony could have been seen as lending legitimacy to Ma's presidential role. That would contradict Beijing's long-standing position that Taiwan lacks state sovereignty.

The Chinese Deaf Olympics team is expected to arrive in Taipei on Sunday, and participate fully in the games.

Despite the Chinese boycott of the Deaf Olympics opening ceremony, relations between Taiwan and the mainland are the best they've been in 60 years.

Since taking office 15 months ago, Ma has jettisoned the anti-China policies of his predecessor, moving Taiwan's economy ever closer to the mainland's, and speaking frequently in favor of a formal peace treaty between the sides.

This year's Deaf Olympics feature some 4,200 athletes and officials from 85 countries and regions competing in 17 sports.

The Deaf Olympics are sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee.

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