The US Air Force Academy on Friday called Taiwan a foreign nation when introducing Taiwanese cadets at its graduation ceremony, which was attended by US President Donald Trump.
“We are pleased to have in the class graduates from 10 foreign nations,” a US Air Force officer presiding over the ceremony said, before naming Taiwan, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Romania, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore and Tunisia.
As each nation was called, a cadet from that nation stood and displayed their flag, which the audience acknowledged with cheers.
A video released by the academy showed a Taiwanese graduate standing and waving the Republic of China (ROC) flag.
The ROC Air Force could not be reached to clarify the number of Taiwanese cadets in the academy’s graduating class of 989 people.
The Taiwanese military is known to send personnel to train at US military academies each year.
The ROC flag also appears in a photograph in which Trump poses with graduates during the commencement ceremony.
The photograph was shared on the White House’s Instagram account.
The academy’s gesture is one of the many signs Taiwan-US relations are normalizing, Institute for National Defense and Security Research senior analyst Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲) said.
The US Air Force Academy gave the ROC flag more prominence by placing it near Trump, he added.
In February, ROC Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Liu Chih-tung (劉志堂) and another officer attended a series of training exercises at the US’ Anderson Air Force Base in Guam, and wore their field uniforms and full rank markings, not the customary plainclothes, Su said.
The Trump administration has changed Washington’s perception of Taiwan and the difference in approach would become more evident as the US promulgates and implements the Taiwan Assurance, Taiwan Travel and Asia Reassurance Initiative acts, he said.
Additional reporting by Huang Hsin-po
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