Washington risked Beijing to be angry at the proposal to change the name of the US office in Taiwan

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Update on Sino-U.S. Relations

The Biden administration is moving in the direction of allowing Taipei to change the name of its representative office in Washington, adding the word “Taiwan” to it, a move that may provoke an angry response from Beijing.

Many people familiar with the internal discussions in the United States said that Washington is seriously considering Taiwan’s request to change the name of the embassy in the US capital from “Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office” (Tecro) to “Taiwan Representative Office.”

According to two people familiar with the matter, White House Asia adviser Kurt Campbell supports this change. One person said that this request has received broad support from within the National Security Council and from Asian officials of the State Department.

People familiar with the matter said that the final decision has not been made and President Joe Biden will be required to sign an executive order.

Changing the name of the office will anger China, which sees Taiwan as part of its sovereign territory and puts more pressure on the growing tension between Washington and Beijing.

The US and Taiwan governments did not comment on Taiwan’s request. However, the Chinese Embassy in Washington stated that it “resolutely opposes” any official interaction between the United States and Taiwan.

It is necessary to stop official contacts with Taiwan, not to send wrong signals to “Taiwan independence” forces or attempt to challenge China’s bottom line, and to handle Taiwan-related affairs properly and prudently, so as not to seriously damage Sino-US relations. And peace and stability across the strait,” the embassy spokesperson said.

The name change will be a breakthrough in the efforts of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen since he took office in 2016 to reverse the changes imposed by Beijing. From 2017 to 2019, Taipei had seven missions in countries without diplomatic recognition, including Nigeria, Jordan, and Ecuador. Under pressure from Beijing, the host country forcibly removed “Taiwan” or “Republic of China” from its name.

In July, Taiwan opened an office in Lithuania called “Taiwan Representative Office”. It angered China, and China recalled its ambassador to Vilnius and demanded that Lithuania recall its ambassador to Beijing.

On Thursday, Biden held his Second call Since Xi Jinping assumed the presidency, in order to break the deadlock in Sino-US relations, little progress has been made in the previous high-level meetings.

The White House stated that the two leaders had “extensive strategic discussions” and Biden “emphasized the United States’ enduring interest in peace, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and the world.”

Taiwan is the source of tension between the two countries. A person involved in the request to change the name of the Taiwanese mission in Washington stated that Taipei discussed the issue with the United States at the end of the Trump administration, but made a formal request to the Biden administration in March. A senior Taiwan official said that Taipei has been urging for change.

Washington did not consider Tecro as an embassy because it transferred diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979. China opposes the international representation of its official name-the Republic of China-or its geographical name, because it believes that this supports its claim as a sovereign state.

The two listened to the US briefing on the renaming debate and said that one crux lies in whether the renaming is a symbolic gesture that will increase the tension between China, the United States and Taiwan, but in fact it has gained little.

Senior US and Taiwanese officials are scheduled to hold a round of sensitive talks called “Special Channel” in Annapolis, Maryland on Friday. The Taiwan delegation includes its National Security Advisor and Foreign Minister Joseph Wu. He cannot visit Washington because the United States restricts senior Taiwan officials from visiting the capital.

The “special channel” meeting traditionally kept secret to avoid angering Beijing will mark the first high-level face-to-face meeting between the Biden team and Taiwan.

From China’s suppression of the Hong Kong democratic movement to the persecution of Uyghurs, Biden has taken a hard line on everything. As China flies more fighters into Taiwan’s “air defense identification zone”, the tensions in Taiwan have also increased.

Bonnie Glaser, an expert on Taiwan from the German Marshall Fund, questioned the renaming efforts, saying that the United States and Taiwan should “focus on meaningful actions to strengthen Taiwan’s security, rather than symbolic provocative steps to China. superior”.

But Randy Shriver, an Asian official in the Bush and Trump administrations, said the United States should consider this request. “Beijing has no small issues to complain about, but we should respect our friends in Taiwan and how they want to be represented.”

follow Dmitry Sevastopoulo with Catherine Hiller On twitter



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