Shortly after a Taiwanese minister displayed a map depicting her country as separate and independent from China during the U.S. democracy summit, her feed was cut.
Taiwanese Digital Minister Audrey Tang showed a map during last week’s Summit for Democracy that not only showed China and Taiwan as separate countries but also said China was “closed” and that the island was “open" politically, according to Reuters.
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When the discussion moderator returned to Tang about 20 minutes later, there was only audio, no visual, and the screen read, “Minister Audrey Tang, Taiwan.”
"Any opinions expressed by individuals on this panel are those of the individual, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the US government,” read a disclaimer that later appeared.
The State Department told the outlet the situation was “an honest mistake,” saying it resulted from “confusion” over screen-sharing.
“We valued Minister Tang’s participation, which showcased Taiwan’s world-class expertise on issues of transparent governance, human rights, and countering disinformation,” the spokesperson continued.
Despite the claim of an innocent mistake, unnamed sources told Reuters it was about the United States’s policy toward China and Taiwan and their fear that the situation could further inflame tensions with China.
One source said the map generated a slew of emails between the National Security Council and the State Department, adding the White House “choked." A spokesperson denied the allegation to the outlet.
Another source claimed the incident “was clearly” about “policy concerns” and told the outlet, “This was completely an overreaction."
Tang also said she did not believe the incident had something to do with the map created by the CIVICUS nonprofit organization.
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“No, I do not believe that this had anything to do with the CIVICUS map or my slides or U.S. allies in Asia for that matter,” she explained.
Taiwan receives U.S. defense support but has not been recognized by the U.S. government since diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China, the communist government on the mainland, were normalized. China has maintained Taiwan is a territorial part of its country, but the island has claimed independence.