The tiny Caribbean island of Grenada suffered a huge diplomatic embarrassment at the inauguration of a US$40 million China-financed stadium built as a gift from Beijing when its police band decided it would perform the Taiwan anthem instead of the March of the Volunteers. Oops.
The Associated Press reports that Chinese Ambassador Qian Hongshan and scores of blue-uniformed Chinese laborers who built the new stadium were “visibly uncomfortable as Taiwan’s anthem echoed inside the 20,000-seat venue on Saturday”.
Grenada Prime Minister Keith Mitchell described the incident as a blunder and “pledged an investigation into how the Royal Grenada Police Band could have prepared the anthem of Taiwan instead of China, which has waged an aggressive campaign in the Caribbean to woo nations away from relationships with its rival.”
We all know how touchy China is about the Taiwan anthem, which was originally the song of the Kuomintang party. In 2000, when Taiwanese singer A-mei took up Chen Shuibian’s invitation to sing the anthem at his presidential inauguration, she was banned from entering the mainland for a year, and Sprite replaced her with mainland Olympic diver Fu Mingxia under pressure from Beijing. Ouch.
Earlier, in another protocol gaffe by the White House, China’s national anthem was announced as the anthem of “the Republic of China” — the formal name of Taiwan.
Meanwhile, back in Grenada, heads have started to roll. Inspector Bryan Hurst, chief of the Grenadian police band has been temporarily relieved of his music duties, in a further report by AP. Police Commissioner Winston James is expected to soon make a formal apology to Chinese Ambassador Qian Hongshan
Images of Grenada from GrenadaGuide.com.