"We just want to paint our flag and not be muted."
An Australian city council has been criticised for covering up Taiwanese flags.
According to the BBC, the flags were painted by school students on a bull statue for a beef industry event in Queensland.
Rockhampton Regional Council said it covered up the flags to reflect Australia not recognising Taiwan as a country, as per the government’s policy.
North Rockhampton State School students had designed various flags to form a fish in order to celebrate diversity. Two Taiwanese-born students painted Taiwan flags but the council covered them in blue paint.
Other flags remained untouched by the council, which claims it informed the school before the flags were covered.
“[We] made a decision to change one bull statue on display in Quay Street in line with the Australian Government’s approach of adhering to the one-China policy,” council representative Tony Cullen told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
“We highly value the relationship with all of our international trading partners and the opportunities they present for our region.”
The mother of the students who painted the Taiwanese flags expressed outrage at the council’s decision.
“What [the] council did on the art work is not acceptable,” Syuan-Si Chen wrote on her daughters’ school Facebook page. “As Australian immigrants, we respect Australia culture and also are proud of our culture background. We just want to paint our flag and not [be] muted.”
Other Taiwanese residents were also unhappy with the decision including Chen’s friend, Yen Chou, who said, “apparently they [the council] know Chinese can barely see Taiwanese flag anywhere in the world, and they decided to take care of their feelings.”