Embarrassing Diplomatic Encounter Leaves Biden Administration Red-faced

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The sudden interruption of a Taiwanese official’s video transmission at President Joe Biden’s Democracy Conference last week created “confusion,” according to the US State Department.

The issue occurred after a global map was released that depicted Taiwan as a different hue than China.


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It’s All Rather Confusing

CIVICUS, a South African-based NGO, created the color-coded map released by Audrey Tang, the digital minister of Taiwan, amid a briefing on Dec. 10.

The group shaded governments in the map based on their regard for civil rights, such as freedom of assembly. With the red color, communist China received the lowest “closed” score.

Taiwan, a self-governing liberal democratic nation, was designated as “open” and colored green. Tang’s display was substituted with the phrase “Minister Audrey Tang Taiwan” as the video stream was cut; however, the audio connection was still audible.

“Any ideas expressed by persons on this committee are those of the person and do not reflect the views of the government of the United States,” as per Reuters.

According to the report, Biden’s administration was worried the different colors used to distinguish China and Taiwan would have been seen as incompatible with China’s “one-China strategy.”

This strategy asserts the US acknowledges only one China while preserving diplomatic ties with Beijing and informal relations with Taipei. Both Washington and Taipei have claimed the incident had nothing to do with geopolitics.


Tang’s video link was canceled due to “ambiguity” over screen-sharing, according to the US State Department, which called it an “honest error.”

The interruption of the video stream was due to “a computer glitch,” according to Taiwan’s foreign office, quoting a message from Washington.

The ministry stated, “Taiwan, as well as the United States, have fully cooperated on this technical matter. Our two nations have a great bond of friendship and mutual trust.”

The Chinese Were Quick to Pick Up the Story

The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) hawkish outlet Global Times criticized the episode, despite the fact an uninterrupted version of the minister’s full presentation has since been published on the summit’s official website.

The newspaper said in an editorial on Monday that the US was trying to avoid breaking Beijing’s “red line.” Beijing’s Marxist administration regards Taiwan, which is self-ruled, as a sovereign territory that may be taken by force if needed.

The CCP was already enraged by Taiwan’s involvement in a summit of leaders from democratic states last week. Beijing was even more enraged when it learned it was left off the invite list.

While the US has a formal connection with Beijing, it continues to be Taiwan’s most important overseas sponsor and arms supplier, as required by the Taiwan Relations Act of the US Senate.

Nevertheless, Washington’s had a policy of “strategic ambiguity” regarding Taiwan for decades. It indicates US administrations have been purposefully ambiguous about whether or not they will protect the island if China invades.