US apol­o­gizes for Tai­wan name gaffe

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

BEI­JING: The United States has apol­o­gized for mis­tak­enly de­scrib­ing Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping as the leader of Tai­wan, China said yes­ter­day. Chi­nese schol­ars said the mis­take shows a lack of com­pe­tence in the White House that is not con­ducive to healthy US-China re­la­tions. For­eign min­istry spokesman Geng Shuang said China asked the United States for an ex­pla­na­tion of the mis­take, and the US said it was a tech­ni­cal er­ror.

Wash­ing­ton apol­o­gized and cor­rected the er­ror, Geng said at a daily news brief­ing. In a state­ment is­sued Satur­day about a meet­ing in Germany be­tween Xi and US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, the White House press of­fice de­scribed Xi as pres­i­dent of the Repub­lic of China, the for­mal name for Tai­wan. Com­mu­nist China, led by Xi, is called the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China. The is­sue is par­tic­u­larly sen­si­tive be­cause Bei­jing in­sists that Tai­wan is part of its ter­ri­tory.

“It is ba­sic knowl­edge for those work­ing in diplo­macy, yet this iso­lated in­ci­dent shows how in­com­pe­tent the White House staff are, how ca­sual they are, and how poorly co­or­di­nated they are,” said Shi Yin­hong, a pro­fes­sor of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions at China Ren­min Uni­ver­sity. “It will only make the Chi­nese peo­ple look down upon the Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment for it to make such a low-level mis­take.”

The gaffe has gone largely un­re­ported in China be­cause the lo­cal me­dia have no mo­ti­va­tion to mock Trump, Shi said. Wang Dong, an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor in the school of in­ter­na­tional stud­ies at elite Pek­ing Uni­ver­sity, said he be­lieves the er­ror was not in­ten­tional but still re­veals a lack of ca­pac­ity in Trump’s for­eign pol­icy team while key po­si­tions re­main un­filled. “It shows the de­fi­ciency in the pro­fes­sion­al­ism on the part of the White House staff in terms of diplo­macy,”Wang said.

“The mis­take it­self may not af­fect China-US re­la­tions, but the White House should draw a les­son from it to im­prove its work flow. It’s a po­lit­i­cally sen­si­tive mis­take that should not have oc­curred.” The mis­take oc­curred in the in­tro­duc­tion to the state­ment and was not in the ac­tual text. By yes­ter­day, the White House had al­tered the state­ment to read sim­ply “Pres­i­dent Xi of China.”

Dur­ing a 2006 state visit to Wash­ing­ton by then-Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Hu Jin­tao, a White House an­nouncer said the na­tional an­them of the Repub­lic of China would be played, in­stead of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China. The cor­rect an­them was used. Other ac­tions by Trump to­ward Tai­wan have drawn Bei­jing’s ire. Up­end­ing long-stand­ing diplo­matic pro­to­col, Trump ac­cepted a con­grat­u­la­tory phone call from Tai­wanese Pres­i­dent Tsai Ing-wen in De­cem­ber and ques­tioned the wis­dom of the “one-China pol­icy” un­der which Wash­ing­ton main­tains only un­of­fi­cial re­la­tions with Tai­wan.

Then last month, to Bei­jing’s in­dig­na­tion, his ad­min­is­tra­tion ap­proved a $1.4 bil­lion arms sale to Tai­wan, which sep­a­rated from main­land China in 1949 dur­ing a civil war. Al­most six months into of­fice, Trump has yet to fill thou­sands of gov­ern­ment po­si­tions. His White House staff in par­tic­u­lar has been faulted for poor or­ga­ni­za­tion.—AP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.