Paris-A Taiwanese team came second out of 16 groups at the seventh Mondial du Pain -- World of Bread Contest - as China exerted pressure to prevent the organizers displaying the Republic of China (R.O.C.) flag.
Although the two-man team trailed a team from Japan which claimed the top prize, failing to secure Taiwan's third consecutive win, it did receive a special "Viennoiserie" prize.
"It is a pity we finished second, but Japan did really well this year and we congratulated them sincerely," said team coach Wang Peng-chieh (???) at the biennial competition, which was held in Nantes, France Oct. 20-22.
The Taiwanese contestants performed to the best of their ability, Wang said, adding that he was impressed by the Japanese team's ability to adapt quickly, a skill from which Taiwan's bakers can learn.
The competition asks contestants to bake various types of breads within eight hours and 30 minutes, including nutrition bread, viennoiserie, sandwich, baguette, artistic piece and a traditional bread of the contestants' respective countries.
The Taiwanese team was competing after a protest from Beijing, which insisted the organizers bar the team from displaying the R.O.C. flag.
After coordination, the organizer asked all participating countries to refrain from showing their flags, a move Wang said was a gesture of respect.
However, the argument of the flag was not an issue for contestants You Tung-yun (???) and Hsu You-cheng (???), Wang said.
"The priority for contestants should be their performance. As long as the final product is good, Taiwan can prove its strength, and as long as you have strength, others will respect you and be more willing to stand up for you."
"(One) should be more open-minded and confident, and what matters is if you are better than you were. You should remember that the competition is not for personal achievement but for Taiwan. Always have a sense of honor - that is the most important spirit," Wang said.
Wang also thanked Taiwanese living in France for showing their support, recalling that six years ago, when he attended the Mondial du Pain, no one cheered for Taiwan.
Lin Chia-huei (???) and Lo Wan-ling (???), members of an overseas Taiwanese group in western France, were among the audience who cheered the team.
Taiwan faces a difficult political situation and its people should always support one another, they said.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel