Advance Rockhampton takes responsibility for airbrushing the Taiwan flag ahead of Beef Australia

The central Queensland region of Rockhampton has found itself at the centre of a diplomatic row after the council removed the Taiwanese flag from a children’s art project ahead of a major international beef expo.
ABC Capricornia reported that students from local schools were asked to paint bull statues in the centre of the city for Beef Australia, including one statue that “celebrates the cultural diversity of the Rockhampton community”.
The ABC reported that two Taiwan-born siblings, Amber Jun Xie and Iu Ting Xie, painted their country’s flag on the bull’s body.
Images posted on Facebook show the bull adorned with several national flags. The Taiwan flags had been painted over.

“There was a Brazilian flag and a Japanese flag but their flag – a Taiwanese flag – was covered up,” the children’s mother, Amy Chen, told the ABC.
“It’s like a slap in the face – what message are they [the council] sending to them?

“You can’t tell me a group of Chinese delegates are going to be upset by two Taiwanese flags in the shape of a barramundi fish.”

China is one of Australia’s biggest beef export destinations and delegates from the country are at Beef Australia, a three-yearly exhibition that has brought about 100,000 people to Rockhampton.
Taiwan has its own government and has trade relations with many countries, including Australia. But most countries do not recognise Taiwan as a legitimate sovereign state. It is claimed by China, which refuses diplomatic relations with any state that formally recognises Taiwan.
Earlier this month, China wrote to major international airlines and asked them to recognise Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong as part of China. The letters drew angry reactions from the US and Australia, where foreign minister Julie Bishop warned China against attempting to exert political pressure over Taiwan.

The council’s commercial arm, Advance Rockhampton, told the ABC it took responsibility for airbrushing the Taiwan flags ahead of Beef Australia, and that the organisers of the expo were not involved. Guardian Australia has contacted Advance Rockhampton and the Rockhampton regional council for comment.

“Advance Rockhampton made a decision to change one bull statue on display in Quay Street in line with the Australian government’s approach of adhering to the one-China policy,” the Advance Rockhampton general manager, Tony Cullen, told the ABC.

“We highly value the relationship with all of our international trading partners and the opportunities they present for our region,” Cullen said.

“The school was contacted prior to the changes being made.”