Beijing has accused Washington of “political manipulation” and attempts to change the status quo after the US State Department quietly changed its website to remove a line stating that it did not support Taiwan’s independence.
In a delicate geopolitical balancing act, the United States has long recognized, but not supported, China’s claim to Taiwan under its version of “the one”. China principle “. Experts say, however, that the policy has been eroded as Beijing has become more confident.
On an updated page on the State Department’s online “fact sheet,” Washington last week removed some important lines from the 1979 US-PRC joint communiqué. It contained a line saying “the United States recognized the Government of the People’s Republic of China as the only legitimate government in China, recognizing the Chinese position that there is only one China and Taiwan is part of China”.
The line that says the United States “does not support Taiwan’s independence” – which appeared in one earlier version published on 31 August 2018 – has also been removed from the website. The new version said the United States “continues to encourage peaceful resolution of disputes across the Sound in accordance with the wishes and best interests of the people of Taiwan”.
It added: “The United States has a long-standing China policy governed by the Taiwan Relations Act, the three joint communications between the United States and China and the six assurances.”
Beijing sees Taiwan as part of China and has promised to take it back, if necessary by force. On Tuesday, a spokesman for the American Institute in Taiwan – the US de facto embassy on the island – said that Washington’s commitment to Taipei was “rock-solid” and that it “contributes to maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and within the region.” .
On the same day, Beijing criticized the change. A State Department spokesman, Zhao Lijian, called the editing “an act of political manipulation and an attempt to change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, which would backfire and the United States itself would be burned.”
The edits took place on May 5, the State Department website showed. The latest fact sheet on Taiwan begins with the line that “as a leading democracy and a technological powerhouse, Taiwan is an important American partner in the Indo-Pacific”. The State Department also said the United States and Taiwan “share similar values, deep commercial and economic ties and strong people-to-people ties.”
It is not immediately clear whether the recent changes to the fact sheet reflected the Biden administration’s recent policy on China. Foreign Minister Anthony Blinken was scheduled to give a big speech last week, outlining the government’s framework for China. The activity was canceled due to Blinken’s Covid test results.
Tensions between Washington and Beijing over the island of Taiwan have continued to rise since Biden became US president last year. In January, Qin Gang, the Chinese envoy to the United States, warned that the two countries could face a “military conflict” over the future of Taiwanin an unusually explicit reference to the prospect of war.