Noodle diplomacy by Taiwanese marathon runner

Sunday, December 26, 2010

TAIPEI - A Taiwanese marathon runner who came second in the Antarctic Ultra Marathon said he helped promote his country by serving hot instant noodles to other runners in the sub-zero weather.

Tommy Chen, 24, returned to Taipei late Saturday, after winning the silver medal Dec 17 in the 100-km Antarctic marathon, which he completed in 15 hours, 15 minutes and 58 seconds.

Brazil’s Bernardo Fonseca won the gold medal by completing the race in 12 hours, 41 minutes and 52 seconds.

Chen received a hero’s welcome at the Taipei international airport from friends, schoolmates and family members, but he said he was more proud of promoting Taiwan than winning the medal.

Chen said he took many packets of instant noodles to the South Pole and shared them with fellow runners.

“At the South Pole, Taiwan instant noodles were very popular, especially with the Brazilian TV crew (covering the race),” he told reporters at the airport.

“I carried out people’s diplomacy with the instant noodles,” said Chen, a student at the Taipei Physical Education College.

People’s diplomacy is a phrase used by Taiwanese to say that they promote the country in their contacts with foreigners.

Taiwan is recognised by only 23 nations. China considers the island to be part of its territory, stopping many foreign countries from establishing formal contacts with Taipei.

It has thus become a national passion for Taiwanese to seize every opportunity to carry out people’s diplomacy in a bid to convince the world that Taiwan is a sovereign country.

Whenever a Taiwanese athlete wins an international competition, the first thing he tells foreign reporters is “I am from Taiwan.”

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