BEIJING (REUTERS) – China’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday (May 10) slammed the United States for changing the wording on the State Department website about Taiwan, saying “political manipulation” will not succeed in changing the status quo over the island.
The State Department website’s section on relations with Taiwan has removed wording on not supporting Taiwan independence and on acknowledging Beijing’s position that Taiwan is part of China.
Washington said the update did not reflect a change in policy.
China’s government considers the democratically ruled island to be inviolable Chinese territory.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters there is only one China, Taiwan belongs to China and that the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole country.
Taiwan rejects Beijing’s sovereignty claims, saying only the island’s 23 million people can decide their future.
The United States’ changing of its fact sheet on Taiwan-US ties is “a petty act of fictionalising and hollowing out the one-China principle,” he added.
“This kind of political manipulation on the Taiwan question is an attempt to change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, and will inevitably stir up a fire that only burns” the United States, Zhao said.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price said that while some wording may have changed, “our underlying policy has not changed.”
“We regularly do updates on our fact sheets. Our fact sheets reflect, in the case of Taiwan, our rock-solid unofficial relationship with Taiwan, and we call upon the PRC to behave responsibly and to not manufacture pretences to increase pressure on Taiwan,” Price said in a press briefing, referring to the People’s Republic of China.
The wording change appears to have happened on May 5, the date at the top of the fact sheet, but it was only widely noticed in Chinese and Taiwanese media on Tuesday.
The State Department also added wording on the Six Assurances, referring to six Reagan-era security assurances given to Taiwan, which the United States declassified in 2020.
US President Joe Biden said in November the United States was not encouraging independence for Taiwan, having caused a stir in October when he said it would come to the island’s defence if China attacked.
The latter remark appeared to depart from Washington’s long-held policy of “strategic ambiguity” – not making clear how the United States would respond – though the White House quickly said Biden was not signalling a change in policy.
US intelligence chiefs told a congressional hearing on Tuesday that China would prefer to take over Taiwan without military action but was working to get to a position where its military could prevail even if the US intervenes.
Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said the island will continue to strengthen its defence capabilities and cooperate with the United States and other like-minded countries to promote peace, stability and prosperity.