Team Biden’s Taiwan map flap

According to this report, the White House cut off the video feed of a Taiwanese official after she showed a map that labeled Taiwan in a different color than China. Taiwanese Digital Minister Audrey Tang’s map was shown for about a minute at Joe Biden’s “Summit for Democracy” before the video feed of her presentation was removed, say people apparently familiar with the situation.

Taiwan’s presentation showed a color-coded map that ranked global openness to civil rights. Taiwan was labeled as green or “open,” while some other countries in Asia were marked as “closed,” “repressed,” “obstructed” or “narrowed.”

No honest color-coded map depicting which Asian countries are “open” could assign the same color to Taiwan and Red China. And democracy/openness was supposed to be the issue under consideration at the meeting. This was, after all, a “Summit for Democracy.”

It’s fair to wonder how serious Team Biden is about democracy if the administration (1) kowtows to the world’s most powerful enemy of democracy by (2) censoring (3) an ally that’s a democracy.

Reuters says the White House feared that showing the map at the conference might conflict with U.S. policy of “strategic ambiguity” as to whether Taiwan is independent, given that the conference was sponsored by the administration. The State Department claims, however, that “confusion” with screen sharing caused the feed to drop in “an honest mistake.”

Reuters’ take is based on sources who say the map generated an instant email flurry among U.S. officials and that the White House National Security Council angrily contacted the State Department, concerned that the map appeared to show Taiwan as a distinct country. Reuters’ explanation for the cutting of the video is certainly more plausible than the State Department’s.

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