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Washington risks wrath of Beijing amid plans to rename its Taiwan office – tensions soar


Back in March, Taiwan requested the name of its mission in the US capital be changed from “Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office” to “Taiwan Representative Office”. This move would anger Beijing who claims the self-ruled island is part of its sovereign territory.

According to the Financial Times, seven of Taipei’s missions in countries without diplomatic recognition had “Taiwan” or “Republic of China” removed from their names as they face pressure from Beijing.

In July, Taiwan opened an office in Lithuania called the “Taiwanese Representative Office”.

However, Beijing subsequently recalled its ambassador to Vilnius and ordered Lithuania to recall its ambassador to China.

Taiwan has long been a tense subject for China since a separate government was established on the island following the Chinese Civil War in 1949.

The nation remains an important ally of Western countries.

Fears have erupted over recent months that, under Chinese President Xi Jinping, Beijing will use military force to reunify Taiwan with mainland China.

This year alone, Beijing has conducted 20 drills simulating the invasion of Taiwan, including striking drills of island capture.

British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth has sailed through the South China Sea, prompting warnings from Beijing against “improper acts”.

READ MORE: UK shows off Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier to ally Japan

He said: “No one should underestimate the resolve, the will and ability of the Chinese people to defend their national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“All sons and daughters of China, including compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, must work together and move forward in solidarity, resolutely smashing any ‘Taiwan independence’ plots.”

Wang Wenbin, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said in May: “I wish to emphasise that abiding by the One China principle is one of the things that is key to China-Australia relations.

“Taiwan is a part of Chinese territory which cannot be separated.

“The Taiwan issue is entirely China’s internal affair and is related to China’s core interests – and we won’t accept any external forces meddling or interfering in this.”

Since taking office in the White House, President Biden has continued pursuing closer relations with Taiwan while taking a tougher stance on China.

Mr Biden spoke with President Xi last week and the two may have a chance to hold their first face-to-face meeting in late October at the Group of 20 summit in Italy.

Tensions between China and the US have reached boiling point over recent months.

In May, China “expelled” a US-guided missile destroyer after it “trespassed” into Beijing’s territorial waters in the South China Sea.

A spokesman for China’s Southern Theatre Command said China will “resolutely safeguard” its sovereignty and security in the highly contested region.

Beijing accused the US of “provocation” after a guided-missile destroyer passed through the Taiwan Strait.

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