The sensitive political issue of whether or not the territory will retain its separate sporting identity in the international arena after the handover has been stirred up yet again. Leading local sports official, Carl Ching Men-ky, yesterday dropped a bombshell by suggesting that local athletes competing in the 13th World Taekwondo Championships, which the territory is hosting from November 18-23 at the Hong Kong Coliseum, would compete under the banner of 'Hong Kong, China'. Ching, who is chairman of the organising committee for the territory's first world championship and has close ties with China, said he has held several talks with Wu Shaozu , Minister of Sports of the Commission for Physical Culture and Sports of China and that it was agreed that the territory would compete as 'Hong Kong, China' at the tournament. The move is expected to anger the Hong Kong Olympic Committee, who have insisted that the territory will retain its separate sporting identity after 1997. This came after assurances from long-serving International Olympic Committee (IOC) president, Juan Antonio Samaranch, that the territory would retain its sporting autonomy. Hong Kong Olympic chief A. de O. Sales has said all the agencies that make up Hong Kong's sports structure must work together towards maintaining the territory's dignity in the eyes of the international community. Sales said the territory's successful campaign for sporting autonomy after the handover means Hong Kong athletes can continue to compete internationally without an identity complex. Ching's move is also expected to be opposed by the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF), which is overseeing the tournament. Josiah Henson, vice-president of the WTF, who is in the territory as part of a five-member team supervising the World Taekwondo Championships, said: 'We have experienced these problems before, especially with the case of Taiwan. 'The International Olympic Committee (IOC) can stop this move and the WTF won't request that Hong Kong compete under another new name. 'We had a case of Turkey and northern Cyprus competing under one banner but that was thrown out because they have their own Olympic committees.' Meanwhile, Ching said the organising committee for the World Taekwondo Championships are working towards raising $12 million to host the tournament. He said there would be no problem raising the necessary funds as Chinese business companies have already pledged their support. 'There are several big firms in China, who are interested in supporting our event,' said Ching. He also said overseas athletes coming from more than 110 countries would not have problems obtaining visas to compete here. 'This is a world championship and we expect full co-operation from the Hong Kong immigration authorities,' he said.