US State Department Has Removed Taiwanese Flag From Its Website


Taiwan’s flag (by LNDDYL / Wikimedia Commons)

Recently the United States Department of State has removed the flag of Taiwan from its Taiwan page.

As Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CNA) reported yesterday, the flag was still visible at least until the end of May and was removed some time later.

CNA contacted the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs of the US Department of State to inquire why the flag has been removed and whether China pressured the US government to that effect.

Grace Choi, a spokesperson for the Bureau, told a CNA journalist that the US policy towards Taiwan has not changed, and that the US government continues to uphold the Three Joint Communiqués, the Taiwan Relations Act and the ‘One-China Principle‘.

China, which claims Taiwan as one of its provinces and promotes ‘reunification‘ as one of its core policy objectives, has repeatedly protested against the international use of Taiwan’s flag.

At the recent Universiade, an international sports event organized for university athletes, Taiwan, which hosted the competition, was not permitted to use its own flag or play its anthem because of China’s pressure on international institutions to ban Taiwan’s national symbols.

In May 2017, under pressure from the Chinese government, Emirates issued a directive asking Taiwanese cabin crew to start “observing the one China policy” and requiring them to wear Chinese flag pins instead of pins displaying the Taiwanese flag. Following protests by Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Dubai-based airline modified the directive, ordering Taiwanese cabin crew to wear no flag pins “until further notice.”

When the Trump administration took office on January 2017, Taiwanese hoped that relations between Washington and Taipei would improve significantly. On December 2, 2016, Donald Trump had spoken on the telephone with Taiwanese president Ts’ai Ying-wen, who had called her American counterpart to congratulate him for his victory in the US elections.

“I fully understand the ‘one China’ policy, but I don’t know why we have to be bound by a ‘one China’ policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade,” Trump said in an interview days later.

China condemned contacts between the US administration and Taiwan and warned Trump that the ‘one China policy’ was ‘non-negotiable.’

Yielding to Chinese pressure, in February 2017 Trump backtracked and pledged to honour the ‘one China principle’ during a call with Chinese president Xi Jinping.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited China from September 28 to September 30. Donald Trump is set to make his first official trip to China in November.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has told its representative in the United States to inquire about the reason for and the exact time of the removal of the flag from the website of the Department of State.

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