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Flag-raising by Taiwan in Washington riles China

January 5, 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. State Department said Monday it was not given advance notice about a New Year’s flag-raising ceremony at the residence of Taiwan’s representative to Washington that has angered China.

Taiwanese media report that it was the first time since Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing 36 years ago that the flag of the Republic of China, as Taiwan is formally known, had been flown at the residence.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Monday that China had protested to the U.S. about the Jan. 1 ceremony and requested Washington “act with discretion when dealing with Taiwan-related issues.”

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the ceremony at the Twin Oaks residence was not consistent with U.S. policy, and no U.S. government personnel attended.

She said “nothing has changed” in the status of the U.S.-Taiwanese relationship, and the U.S. remains committed to the one China policy.

Under that policy, the U.S. recognizes Beijing as representing China. Taiwan split from the Chinese mainland amid civil war in 1949, and China regards Taiwan, a self-governing island, as part of its territory. The U.S. policy acknowledges the Chinese view over sovereignty, but considers Taiwan’s status as unsettled.

This delicate compromise makes the Taiwan’s diplomatic presence in Washington an area of some sensitivity despite an easing of tensions across the Taiwan Strait in recent years. Twin Oaks was the residence of Republic of China ambassadors from 1937 until 1979, when the U.S. shifted its diplomatic recognition to Beijing.

The Taipei Times newspaper cited the Taiwanese representative to the U.S., Shen Lyu-shun, as saying his office had notified the Obama administration before Thursday’s ceremony and received U.S. approval provided the ceremony was low-profile and not televised.

The Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Washington, as Taiwan’s mission is known, declined to comment Monday, referring questions to the Foreign Ministry in Taipei.

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