The US State Department has made changes to its official website, removing a reference to Taiwan as a “country” in its travel advisory section, as reported by Taiwan News. The term “country information page” was replaced with a link to a section now called “Taiwan international travel information.” The American Institute in Taiwan, which serves as a de-facto US embassy in Taiwan, declined to comment on the reasons behind the switch but assured that official US policy on Taiwan remains unchanged.
The US State Department frequently updates sections of its website, and it has emphasized its longstanding, strong, bipartisan support for Taiwan in line with its One-China policy. Despite acknowledging Beijing’s One-China policy, which views Taiwan as a breakaway province, the United States maintains informal ties with Taiwan and regularly provides it with defensive arms.
In June, the Biden administration approved the sale of $440 million worth of weapons to Taiwan, which drew condemnation from officials in Beijing. China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning accused the United States of creating tensions and undermining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. However, the United States defended its actions, stating that the arms sales are defensive in nature.
To legally require the supply of defensive arms to Taiwan, Washington passed the Taiwan Relations Act in 1979. The Act also underscores its policy that the future of Taiwan should be determined through peaceful means. Taiwan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs refrained from commenting on the changes to the US State Department’s website but maintained that the island remains an independent democratic country. It asserted that the Republic of China (ROC) and the People’s Republic of China are not subordinate to each other, and the future of Taiwan must align with the will of its people.
The US-Taiwan relationship has been a contentious issue between the United States and China. While China claims sovereignty over Taiwan, the United States continues to support Taiwan’s autonomy and provides assistance in various ways. This support includes arms sales, trade relations, and cultural exchanges. The US-Taiwan relationship is often described as “unofficial” due to the US’s One-China policy, but it is a significant point of contention in US-China relations.
The removal of the term “country” from the State Department’s website may be viewed as a slight to Taiwan’s status as an independent entity. However, it is important to note that the official US policy towards Taiwan remains unchanged. Washington continues to support Taiwan as a valuable ally and partner in the Asia-Pacific region.
The United States considers its relationship with Taiwan as an essential aspect of its overall strategy in maintaining stability and security in the region. By providing defensive arms to Taiwan, the United States aims to enable the island to deter potential aggression and safeguard its democratic system.
In conclusion, the recent changes to the US State Department’s website, which removed the term “country” in reference to Taiwan, have sparked speculation and discussion. However, it is crucial to recognize that these changes do not signify a shift in official US policy towards Taiwan. The United States remains committed to providing support and maintaining a strong relationship with Taiwan, in line with its One-China policy.