The US Department of State has put back a statement that it does not support “Taiwan independence” in the latest update of a fact sheet on US-Taiwan relations.
The latest version of the fact sheet, published on Saturday last week, states “we do not support Taiwan independence,” a phrase that had been included in the fact sheet since at least 2018 before it was removed on May 5, triggering a strong protest from Beijing.
“We oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo from either side; we do not support Taiwan independence; and we expect cross-Strait differences to be resolved by peaceful means,” the fact sheet reads.
Photo: screen grab from the US Department of State Web site
However, the statement that “the US recognized the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as the sole legal government of China and acknowledged the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China,” which was also removed on May 5, was not added back.
Asked if the latest update was a response to China’s protest, a department spokesperson who asked not to be named said “absolutely not.”
“We have always been clear with the PRC about our ‘one China’ policy, which is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act [TRA], the three [US-China] Joint Communiques and the ‘six assurances,’” the spokesperson said.
A statement that the US “maintains our capacity to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of Taiwan” consistent with the TRA, was added to the updated fact sheet.
It was updated to reflect US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s speech on Thursday last week about the US’ approach toward China, the spokesperson said.
“We will continue to support Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the international community, and deepen our economic ties, consistent with our ‘one China’ policy,” he said.
In Taipei, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said that the US has explained the changes, while declining to comment further.
Taiwan will continue to uphold its democratic constitutional system and the inviolability of its sovereignty, the ministry said, adding that its future would be determined by the will of the Taiwanese people.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇) said that the most important change made to the fact sheet was the removal on May 5 of the phrase “Taiwan is part of China.”
Previous versions of the document stated that the US acknowledged “the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China.”
The rewording of the document suggests that a Chinese invasion of Taiwan would not be seen as the continuation of a civil war, but would be regarded as a full-blown international incident, Wang said.
DPP Legislator Hsu Chih-chieh (許智傑) said that the many changes over such a short time show that Washington takes the Taiwan issue very seriously.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus convener William Tseng (曾銘宗) urged security and diplomatic agencies to make a careful assessment of whether the US’ Taiwan policy has changed.
It is not known whether China exerted pressure, but the government must make assessments on US policy and how it would affect the Republic of China, Tseng added.
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