Fri, Jan 09, 2015 - Page 1 News List

US wants no repeat of ROC flag-raising

PRESSURE IS UP:The AIT’s latest statement dashed any hope that Shen Lyu-shun had of raising the national flag again during special occasions at Twin Oaks Estate

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

American Institute in Taiwan spokesperson Mark Zimmer speaks to reporters on May 7 last year in Greater Kaohsiung.

Photo: Ke Yu-hao , Taipei Times

The raising of the Republic of China (ROC) flag at Twin Oaks Estate in Washington continues to cause diplomatic ripples between Taiwan and the US, with Washington seeking reassurance that such an incident will not happen again.

The US hopes that Taiwan will “demonstrate the priority it puts on the US-Taiwan relationship by ensuring that these kinds of things do not happen again,” American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) spokesman Mark Zimmer said yesterday in Taipei.

Zimmer’s remarks could be seen as a blow to Representative to the US Shen Lyu-shun’s (沈呂巡) statement on Wednesday that he hopes to continue raising the ROC flag on special occasions at Twin Oaks, the residence of the nation’s official representative to the US.

Speaking at a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee, Shen said the ROC flag should be able to fly at Twin Oaks to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II — which Shen referred to as the (Anti-Japan) Resistance War — or fly at half-mast to commemorate the Nanjing Massacre.

“And they are not supposed to be opposed by the Chinese government,” he added.

While lauding Shen’s patriotic act, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers frowned on his suggestions which smack of Chinese nationalism, reminding Shen that he is an envoy appointed by the Republic of China and not by the People’s Republic of China.

When asked whether he would be willing to commemorate the 228 Massacre as well, Shen said: “Certainly.”

However, the AIT’s public statement has put a damper on all these ideas.

Zimmer yesterday said that the US “did not approve or know about the Jan. 1 flag-raising at Twin Oaks in advance” and, as US Department of State spokesperson Jen Psaki had said, the US is “disappointed with this action.”

“We have raised our serious concerns with senior Taiwan authorities in Taipei and Washington,” Zimmer said, adding that the US hoped Taiwan would make sure such an incident would not happen again.

The remarks could be seen as an admonishment as Washington steps up the pressure on Taipei.

On Tuesday, Psaki had tempered her comments, saying only that the US “is disappointed with the action” and that “the flag-raising ceremony violated our longstanding understanding on the conduct of our unofficial relations.”

“We have a robust set of cultural relations, but we do not have diplomatic relations. And we’ll continue to discuss this with the proper officials,” Psaki said.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Anna Kao (高安), when asked about the AIT’s statement, said that Taipei would continue to discuss the matter with Washington.

“Both Taiwan and the US value greatly the longstanding cooperative relationship between the two sides and will continue strengthening it in the future,” Kao said.

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