China rips US over wording change on State Dept. Taiwan website

China rips US over wording change on State Dept Taiwan

China’s Foreign Ministry ripped the State Department this week over a wording change on an agency web page focused on Taiwan, calling it a “petty act of fictionalizing,” according to a new report.

As of May 5, the State Department online fact sheet on “US Relations with Taiwan” no longer states that Washington “does not support Taiwan independence.”

The previous version of the fact sheet – last updated in August 2018, according to a recent screengrab obtained by the WayBack Machine internet archive – began by noting that Washington and Taipei enjoyed “a robust unofficial relationship.”

The latest version of that fact sheet moves that statement to the middle of the second paragraph and begins: “As a leading democracy and a technological powerhouse, Taiwan is a key U.S. partner in the Indo-Pacific.”

“Though the United States does not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, we have a robust unofficial relationship as well as an abiding interest in maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” the statement goes on. “Consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act, the United States makes available defense articles and services as necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability.”

The fact sheet also added language referencing the Six Assurances – a set of Reagan-era promises made to Taiwan in 1982 that were not declassified until 2020.

The State Department web page stated in 2018 that the US “does not support Taiwan independence.”
State Department

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijan blasted the changes on Tuesday.

“This kind of political manipulation on the Taiwan question is an attempt to change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, and will inevitably stir up a fire that only burns” the US, Zhao told reporters, according to Reuters.

The spokesman went on to call it “a petty act of fictionalizing and hollowing out the one-China principle,” referencing Beijing’s insistence that Taiwan rightfully belongs to China.

The current State Department web page declares that the US has “a robust unofficial relationship” with Taiwan.
The current State Department web page declares that the US has “a robust unofficial relationship” with Taiwan.
State Department

State Department spokesman Ned Price defended the wording update on Tuesday, telling reporters that there has been “no change” in US policy regarding Taiwan.

“All we have done is update a fact sheet, and that’s something that we routinely do with our relationships around the world,” Price said. “When it comes to Taiwan, our policy remains guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, three [US-China] Joint Communiques, and six assurances, as that very fact sheet notes.”

“That fact sheet has not been updated in several years,” Price later said. “You know that our fact sheets are regularly updated. I think we care most about ensuring that our relationships around the world are reflected accurately in our fact sheets.”

U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price
State Department spokesman Ned Price argued web pages “regularly updated.”
Manuel Balce Ceneta/Pool via REUTERS

Taking a shot at Beijing, Price said the US is not “as concerned as to what other countries might latch on to in an effort to create a pretense.”

The furor comes amid increased tensions over a possible invasion of Taiwan by China.

Just last month, Taiwan’s military issued an official war survival handbook. Last weekend, Beijing conducted a round of military exercises near Taiwan, causing Taipei to scramble planes in response to an intrusion of its air defense zone.

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