The intense three-sided competition between Taiwanese and diaspora Chinese (PRC + KMT) in the US was on display in San Francisco in the Christian Science Monitor this week:

Betty Yuan left Taiwan for San Francisco in 1981, when mainland China was just beginning to open its economy.

Now, a booming China is hosting the 2008 Olympics and is sending the Olympic torch to San Francisco. To celebrate, Ms Yuan will be helping deploy costumed performers, tai chi practitioners, and children’s artwork along Wednesday’s torch route.

But she is upset about the demonstrations planned by thousands of Tibetans, Burmese, Falun Gong believers, and others to protest China’s human rights record.

“We are disappointed that some politicians and interest groups are threatening to stage protests and ruin the Games, for the sake of bad-mouthing and insulting China,” she said in a statement in Chinese she released as head of the Northern California Chinese Culture-Athletic Federation.

For decades, the Chinese community in San Francisco has been broadly divided between mainlanders and the numerically smaller but more prosperous and influential Taiwanese, who are traditionally critical of the Communist regime in Beijing. Yet, many Chinese-Americans including Taiwanese like Yuan support the Games and denounce the human rights protests reflects the power of ethnic pride over politics – but also a shift in the diaspora’s attitude toward Beijing in recent years.

It is easy to see that the writers have confused pro-KMT organizations with Taiwanese organizations, a common error. What the article really shows is how the pro-China Return to Zion theology of the KMT entails an inevitable drift towards Beijing over time on the part of KMT organizations as Taiwan democratizes. As any perusal of the websites of overseas Taiwan organizations like FAPA would show, the Taiwanese organizations support the Tibetans. It’s a shame the piece is so confused on this topic, and did not include any of those voices.

It’s also hilarious — but also ominous — to see US-based organizations, whatever their ethnic bent, reproducing the bombastic, illogical, and anti-democratic rhetoric of Beijing. If they are treated as ‘Bots for Beijing, they have only themselves to blame.

Finally, complaints from Chinese about foreigners “politicizing the Olympics” are laughable hypocrisy. China has heavily politicized the Torch and demanded that pro-democracy politics, public protests, and other political activities abate during the Olympics, and used the Olympics as a lever to gain political ground in overseas Chinese communities, as this article shows. Further, those of us who have followed Taiwan’s participation in international sporting events over the years can recall numerous instances of Chinese demanding the removal or alteration of flags, physical attacks on spectators and athletes, obnoxious protests, insistence on downgrading or eliminating Taiwan’s participation in events, denials of visas, and so on. When it comes to the depoliticization of international sports, China has no ethical leg to stand on. Perhaps there is some standpoint from which people can plead that the Olympics not be “politicized,” but until such talk includes withering criticism of China’s constant politicization of international sports in general, and the Olympics in particular, it will be little more than special pleading on Beijing’s behalf.

UPDATE: As Thomas reminds me below, China boycotted the 1980 Olympics.