China

Taiwan gaffe spurs apology from the US

Taiwan gaffe spurs apology from the US
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman speaks during a briefing at the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing. AP file photo
Published: 8:35 AM, July 11, 2017

HONG KONG — A Chinese official said Monday that the United States had apologised for a White House statement that misidentified China’s leader, Xi Jinping, as president of the Republic of China — the formal name for Taiwan.

“According to my understanding, the Chinese side has already raised this with the United States side,” said Geng Shuang, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry. “The United States side apologised and said this was a technological error that has already been corrected.”

The erroneous reference was in the heading of a White House transcript, released Saturday, of presidential remarks before a bilateral meeting between President Donald Trump and Mr Xi at the Group of 20 session in Hamburg, Germany. Mr Xi is the president of the People’s Republic of China.

The gaffe was one of a handful of misnomers issued by the White House during the summit meeting. Mr Trump’s Instagram account briefly identified Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore as President Joko Widodo of Indonesia, Singapore news outlets reported. And another White House statement called the prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, “President Abe of Japan.”

The Republic of China flub was awkward for Beijing, which considers Taiwan part of its territory.

A Chinese-language transcript from Geng’s Monday news briefing on the Foreign Ministry website rendered “Republic of China” in English, highlighting the discomfort with the name in Beijing.

In December, Mr Trump, as president-elect, accepted a telephone call from President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan, which broke with decades of US precedent and was considered a snub for Beijing. The United States severed formal ties with Taiwan in 1979 as part of the so-called One China policy under which it recognises Beijing as the government of China.

Mr Trump later suggested that he might not be bound by the One China policy, but he reaffirmed it during a call with Mr Xi in February. THE NEW YORK TIMES