Taiwanese man caught in diplomatic tussle

Taiwanese man caught in diplomatic tussle

Chinese embassy contacts blast injured, official to visit soon

To seek solace in the community living of Osho Ashram, Jack arrived in Mumbai three weeks ago and straightaway headed for Pune. Jack was in German Bakery along with his Indian colleagues of the ashram on Saturday when the bomb went off at 6:52 pm precisely. Jack sustained 30 per cent burns and is being treated at the burns ward of the state-run Sassoon General Hospital here.

The next day, Jack got an unsolicited call. Chinese embassy officials reportedly got in touch with him through his friend and said an official would be visiting him soon to find out whether all is well and whether he was getting proper treatment.

A startled Jack wanted his Taiwanese authorities to come for him, not the Chinese. “Chinese embassy officials have decided to claim me as their own and I believe they are coming to Pune to meet me. They still think they own Taiwan,” Jack said.

It is diplomacy. China claims Taiwan as a renegade province which must reunite with the mainland, through negotiations if possible, but with force if necessary. China’s official name is People’s Republic of China (PRC), while Taiwan calls itself Republic of China (ROC). Taiwan came into existence in 1950 after Communists took control of mainland China, and the then Chinese leader Chaing-kai-Shaik fleeing to Taiwan.

India and most of the world, including the US, do not recognise Taiwan as an independent nation, although diplomatic relations are maintained through Taipei Social and Economic Offices in various countries.

Taiwan’s national carrier, China Airlines, operates flights between Delhi and Taipei, and many Taiwanese giants, such as Acer, D-Link have their strong presence in Bangalore.
China leaves no opportunity to embarrass Taiwan wherever possible. Both accuse each other of carrying out “cheque book diplomacy”, trying to influence poor African countries and the Pacific islands to switch over their recognition from one to another by using enormous funding.

A few Pacific island countries and Latin American countries continue to recognise Taiwan as “real China”.

Apart from the diplomatic transgression, Jack received continuous support from his Osho Commune members. The burns “are pretty serious, but not very critical,” he said lying at ward 2 of the hospital.

His friend Chen Feng has asked him to return, but Jack wants to stay here. “I want to see more of India,” he said, showing that terrorists have failed to scare him and scores of other foreigners away.

Recalling the incident, Jack said he was at the bakery on Saturday evening. “There were about 60-70 people in the bakery. There were so many happy faces. Then suddenly I fell off my chair. I was sitting inside the bakery. I heard a loud noise and saw the entire place go up in flames,” he said. As flames engulfed the place and stench of burning flesh choked those trapped inside the bakery, Jack realised that his legs were hurting, and found his usual one-piece maroon robe on fire. Jack could not get out of the robe quickly and suffered burns.

Second home
While Jack is among the few members of the Osho Commune who got injured, an Italian woman Nadia Macerini was not so lucky. She was killed instantly in the blast. For her, Pune was her second home, and she would frequently visit the Osho Ashram.

On that fateful evening, Nadia was talking to her friend on mobile when she reached the bakery to have coffee. She told her friend that she would call her back in 10 minutes, but there was no call. Nadia’s friend in the ashram Eshana said they both had lunch in the commune that day and Nadia then left for her work. Eshana was aware of the blast, but did not know that Nadia had been one of the victims. It was on the next day when Nadia’s friend Cory, with whom she was talking on mobile, reached Pune that they came to know about Nadia’s death.

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