TAIPEI (AFP) – Taiwan on Wednesday expressed regret at embarrassing its chief ally the United States after a Taiwanese flag-raising ceremony in Washington sparked US criticism and Chinese anger.
Taiwan’s flag was raised over its de facto embassy in Washington on New Year’s Day for the first time since the US switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979.
US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Tuesday the US was “disappointed with the action” which violated a long-standing pact on US-Taiwan ties, and that the State Department had not been informed in advance of the ceremony.
The United States has long held a one-China policy, and does not have full diplomatic relations with Taiwan, the self-ruled island Beijing still claims as part of its territory.
Washington has a representative office in Taipei, while Taiwan maintains representation at a luxury estate in the US capital known as Twin Oaks.
China said it “resolutely opposed” the flag-raising and had lodged “solemn representations” with the US.
“The Chinese side requests the American side to adhere to the one-China policy and the principles established by the three China-US joint communiqués, act with discretion when dealing with Taiwan-related issues and avoid the recurrence of a similar incident,” said foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying on Monday.
“This is an isolated incident. We regret that it caused the US inconvenience,” Taiwan’s deputy foreign minister Andrew Kao told a parliamentary session Wednesday.
“We have an understanding (with the US) and we will continue to enhance communication.”
De facto ambassador Shen Lyu-shun, who made the decision to raise the flag, was subject to fierce grilling in the session but defended the move.
“There is no setback in relations,” Shen said.
“The US understood that we did not notify them in advance out of goodwill… so the US wouldn’t be in a difficult position if China lodged a protest.”