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(CNN) -- Beijing is playing the "Taiwan card" in an apparent attempt to boost its chances of hosting the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Upon returning to Beijing from a trip to Taiwan, the head of the Chinese Olympics Committee Yuan Weimin said it was possible that both sides of the Taiwan Straits could co-host the world sports event.

"If we succeed in our Olympics application, we do not rule out the possibility of co-organizing the Olympics with Taiwan under the premise of 'one country, two systems'."

A team from the Taipei Olympics Committee is due to visit Beijing next month to learn about sports facilities in the mainland.

Official Beijing media on Tuesday quoted Mr Yuan as saying that under "one country, two systems," it was conceivable that some sporting events would be held in Taiwan should Beijing succeed in its bid.

A Western diplomat in Beijing said that if Chinese authorities came out with a high-profile publicity campaign to co-organize the Games with Taipei, it might win extra votes from the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

"So-called anti-Chinese elements in the U.S. and some Western countries have opposed Beijing's Olympics bid on political grounds including China's human rights record and its aggressive policy toward Taiwan," the diplomat said.

"These anti-China sentiments might change if Beijing indicated its readiness to let Taipei host some Olympics events."

A spokesman for Beijing's office for the Olympics bid said on Tuesday the city was unfazed by leaks from an IOC report saying Paris was the frontrunner for winning the bid.

"We are confident of Beijing's success because without doubt we have the best facilities," said the spokesman, who gave his name as Guo.

However, a political source in Beijing said the authorities had since the spring started to subtly prepare the populace for the possibility of a loss.

"Beijing does not want a repeat of the situation when it lost the bid for the 2000 Olympics," the source said.

"At the time, there was widespread indignation at how the U.S. had spearheaded a campaign to block China. The leadership does not want a sporting event to stork the people's nationalistic and anti-U.S. sentiments."

One indication of the relatively low-key approach of the authorities is top leaders such as President Jiang Zemin and Premier Zhu Rongji have been remarkably reticent concerning the prospects of Beijing as host city.



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