(Image from flckr user Jason Ma)
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — In another disjointed, unannounced move by the Trump administration, just days after news broke that the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and the U.S. State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA) had removed the Taiwan flag from their websites, all flags of all countries have been removed from the latter.
At some point in January, Taiwan's flag was unceremoniously removed from both the USTR and CA websites, but when UDN reporters asked whether the exclusion of the flag was intentional or a technical error, Grace Choi, a spokesperson for the United States Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, responded on Jan. 23 that this does not indicate any change in American policy regarding Taiwan and that the U.S. continues to abide by The Three Joint Communiqués and the Taiwan Relations Act.
On Jan. 24, Andrew Lee (李憲章), spokesperson for Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), said that the ministry found the removal of the Taiwan flag from the U.S. governmental websites “inexplicable" and "inadmissible,” and that the ministry was very disappointed.
Lee said such incident would raise doubt among Taiwanese citizens about the current state of the Taiwan-U.S. relations even though the American government had emphasized the strong and friendly relations between the two and promised that the government’s policy toward Taiwan was not altered.
On Jan. 25, the U.S. State Department's spokesperson Heather Nauert essentially repeated Choi's words,“I can tell you our policy regarding Taiwan has not changed. The United States remains committed to our One China policy based on Three Joint Communiqués and the Taiwan Relations Act. We consider Taiwan to be a vital partner, a democratic success story, and a force for good in the world. Taiwan shares our values, has earned our respect, and continues to merit our strong support.”
Just three days later, on Jan. 26 Liberty Times reported that all of the flags for all countries listed on the tab labeled "Country Information" had been suddenly removed from the CA website. Meanwhile, on the USTR website, under the tab titled "Countries & Regions," China, Mongolia, and Taiwan are lumped together for some reason.
Under China, Mongolia, and Taiwan, all countries and special administrative regions including China, Hong Kong, Macau and Mongolia have their respective flags displayed, with only Taiwan missing its banner.
Meanwhile, the Taiwan flag has been missing from the State Department's main website since September of last year.
U.S. State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs entry for Taiwan.
U.S. State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs entry for China.
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative website entry for Macau.
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative website entry for Taiwan.
State Department website
U.S. Department of State website entry for Taiwan.
U.S. Department of State website entry for China.