Sat, Jan 24, 2015 - Page 3 News List

US remains angry over flag-raising: sources

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in Washington

Chinese Nationalist Pary (KMT) Legislator Chen Kai-chin on Jan. 7 speaks at the legislature in front of a screen showing images of a flag-raising ceremony at Twin Oaks.

Photo: AFP

While no lasting damage appears to have been done to US-Taiwan relations, there is lingering anger among senior Washington officials over the unauthorized raising of the Republic of China (ROC) flag at Twin Oaks.

“Nobody likes to be taken for granted,” US National Security Council Senior Director for Asian affairs Evan Medeiros said this week.

Medeiros, top Asia adviser to US President Barack Obama, was answering a question on US-Taiwan relations at a think tank conference on Wednesday.

He chose not to answer the specific question, but rather used it as a platform to make comments for the record.

Breaking a long-established understanding, Taiwanese Representative to the US Shen Lyu-shun (沈呂巡) raised the ROC flag at a New Year’s Day ceremony at Twin Oaks, the large Washington estate where ROC ambassadors lived until the US broke diplomatic relations with Taipei in 1978.

The US was not informed in advance, and Beijing lodged strong protests when it discovered the ceremony — widely reported by Taiwanese media — had taken place.

One of the clear conditions governing the unofficial US-Taiwan relationship is that the ROC flag will not be flown at Twin Oaks.

Soon after the incident, the US Department of State said that it was “disappointed” by the move and earlier this week a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official in Taipei confirmed that bilateral talks on the subject are ongoing.

The MOFA official said that ties remained strong and were based on a low-profile “surprise-free” policy.

Medeiros was asked if US-Taiwan relations would be impacted by the election of New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) as chairman of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and by Democratic Progressive Party Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) reopening of the party’s China Affairs Committee.

Largely ignoring the question, he instead chose to make what were interpreted by many in the audience as thinly veiled comments about the flag-raising.

Medeiros was speaking at a conference organized by the Brookings Institution on US-Australian relations.

He said the US had an unofficial relationship with Taiwan and that this was something he had worked on “very closely” since his first day with the White House.

Medeiros said the unofficial relationship was robust and productive, and that although there were occasional rough patches, both sides had always been able to ride out storms.

In what was generally taken by the audience as a reference to the flag-raising, he added that the relationship had gone through a difficult period and that he hoped both sides could move past it.

Nevertheless, he thought the US-Taiwan relationship was fundamentally solid.

A number of Washington sources later told the Taipei Times that senior Obama administration officials remained angry about the flag-raising incident.

The sources said that the anger tended to be directed toward Taiwanese officials in Washington, rather than towards Taipei.

They said that Shen had recently acted to stem the anger, and the situation had improved.

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