On Tuesday, China accused the US of “political manipulation” after the State Department changed the wording of a Taiwan fact sheet on its website.
The State Department removed a line that said the US “does not support Taiwan independence.” It also removed a line that said the US recognizes “the government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal government of China, acknowledging the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is a part of China.”
The changes were made on the website last week, but China didn’t notice until Tuesday. “This kind of political manipulation on the Taiwan question is an attempt to change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, and will inevitably stir up a fire that only burn,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian.
State Department spokesman Ned Price defended the edits to the fact sheet, insisting it did not mean a change in policy. He said while the wording is different, the US’s “underlying policy has not changed.”
“We regularly do updates on our fact sheets. Our fact sheets reflect, in the case of Taiwan, our rock-solid unofficial relationship with Taiwan, and we call upon the PRC to behave responsibly and to not manufacture pretenses to increase pressure on Taiwan,” Price added.
The changes come as the US has been increasing its informal ties with Taiwan as a way to counter China. Starting under the Trump administration, the US began sending more high-level officials to the island, drawing the ire of Beijing as the island is the most sensitive issue between the two powers.
Back in January, China’s ambassador to the US, Qin Gang, warned that Washington’s increasing support for Taipei could ultimately lead to war between the US and China. “If the Taiwanese authorities, emboldened by the United States, keep going down the road for independence, it most likely will involve China and the United States, the two big countries, in the military conflict,” Qin said.