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Biden risks angering China with move to let the Taipei mission to the US use Taiwan in their name

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The Biden administration is reportedly considering allowing Taipei to use the name ‘Taiwan’ for its office in Washington, a move that would anger Beijing, which lays claim to the democratically ruled island.

Details emerged on Friday, hours after President Biden held his second call with Chinese leader Xi Jinping since becoming president in an attempt to thaw frosty relations. 

Several people familiar with internal discussions told the Financial Times that Washington was seriously considering a request from Taiwan to change the name of its mission from the ‘Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office’ to ‘Taiwan Representative Office.’ 

One source said the idea had the backing of Kurt Campbell, White House Asia adviser, as well as State Department Asia officials and wide support within the National Security Council.

But any change would likely trigger the fury of China. 

It claims Taiwan as its own and has pressured foreign companies and governments to refer to the island as Chinese territory.

Xi Jinping

Joe Biden

President Biden (r) risks triggering an angry response from Chinese leader Xi Jinping if his administration goes ahead with a proposal to allow Taiwan to change the name of its mission in Washington from the ‘Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office’ to ‘Taiwan Representative Office.’

China has pressured host countries not to allow Taiwan to use 'Taiwan' or 'Republic of China' in the names of their representative offices around the world

China has pressured host countries not to allow Taiwan to use ‘Taiwan’ or ‘Republic of China’ in the names of their representative offices around the world

The Chinese embassy in Washington warned the Biden administration against any change.   

‘It must stop any official interaction with Taiwan, refrain from sending any wrong signals to ‘Taiwan independence’ forces or attempting to challenge China’s bottom line, and properly and prudently handle Taiwan-related matters, so as not to seriously damage China-US relations and cross-Strait peace and stability,’ an embassy spokesperson told the newspaper. 

The National Security Council declined to comment. 

The report emerged amid intense scrutiny of Biden’s position on Taiwan as he ratchets up tension with China.

The status of the island is one of many factors under review at the White House, the State Department and the Pentagon, review their Asia strategy for a new phase of competition with China. 

In a sign of how Taiwan could become a flashpoint, the island’s air force scrambled on Sunday to respond to a major Chinese military incursion into their ‘air defence identification zone’ of 19 aircraft which included several nuclear-capable bombers.  

Taiwanese authorities have complained for several months that China’s air force has exercised threatening behaviour near their territory by flying regular military operations, often in the southwestern part of its air defence zone near the Pratas Islands. 

Last month U.S. officials had to play down comments in which Biden appeared to suggest the U.S. would defend the island if it were attacked, a departure from Washington’s long-held stance of ‘strategic ambiguity.’  

In an ABC interview, Biden was asked about the impact of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and Chinese warnings to Taiwan that Washington was an unreliable partner. 

In his response, Biden included Taiwan with countries that Washington has explicitly committed to defend.

Taiwanese combat aircraft were last week dispatched to warn away Chinese aircraft which had flown between the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands and the mainland, while missile systems were deployed to monitor them, said Taiwanese authorities

Taiwanese combat aircraft were last week dispatched to warn away Chinese aircraft which had flown between the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands and the mainland, while missile systems were deployed to monitor them, said Taiwanese authorities

‘They are … entities we’ve made agreements with based on not a civil war they’re having on that island or in South Korea, but on an agreement where they have a unity government that, in fact, is trying to keep bad guys from doing bad things to them,’ he said.

‘We have made — kept every commitment. We made a sacred commitment to Article 5 that if in fact anyone were to invade or take action against our NATO allies, we would respond. Same with Japan, same with South Korea, same with – Taiwan. It’s not even comparable to talk about that.’  

Officials were forced to say that nothing had changed. 

But any change in the name of the mission in Washington would be a boost for  Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen who has seen Beijing increase pressure on other nations to remove the word ‘Taiwan’ from its overseas’ offices. 

Seven of Taipei’s missions in countries without diplomatic recognition, including Nigeria, Jordan and Ecuador, had ‘Taiwan’ or ‘Republic of China’ removed from their names by their host countries in recent years.

And this year, China recalled its ambassador to Lithuania after Taiwan opened an office in its capital Vilnius called the ‘Taiwanese Representative Office.’

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Written by bourbiza

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