Taiwan Minister's Feed Cut at US Democracy Summit After Map Shows ROC, China in Different Colors
© AP Photo / Andy WongA woman wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus sits near a screen showing China and U.S. flags as she listens to a speech by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Lanting Forum on bringing China-U.S. relations back to the right track, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs office in Beijing on Monday, Feb. 22, 2021
© AP Photo / Andy Wong
On December 9-10, US President Joe Biden's administration led the first 'Summit for Democracy,' a virtual conference that sought to bring government leaders, civil society, and private sector representatives together to identify challenges facing democracies while offering individual and collective commitments, reforms, and initiatives.
Taiwanese Digital Minister Audrey Tang, a presenter at the White House's two-day conference, had her feed cut by US officials due to concerns about a map violating the US Department of State's 'one China' view, according to a Reuters report, citing sources familiar with the matter.
Despite Taiwan being the ninth-largest US trade partner via an unofficial relationship, the State Department does not publicly support the independence of the Republic of China and acknowledges Beijing's position that "there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China."
During the December 10 event, Tang's presentation feed was pulled shortly after she displayed a color-coded map, designed by South African nonprofit CIVICUS, that measured each country's openness on civil rights. While China was labeled red, Taiwan was marked green.
The State Department initially claimed that there was "confusion" regarding screen sharing at the time Tang's feed was pulled.
"We valued Minister Tang's participation, which showcased Taiwan's world-class expertise on issues of transparent governance, human rights, and countering disinformation," a department spokesperson told Reuters, calling the move an "honest mistake."
When asked about the incident, Tang rejected the idea that her feed was pulled on purpose.
"No, I do not believe that this has anything to do with the CIVICUS map in my slides, or US allies in Asia, for that matter," Tang told Reuters via email.
Tang's image has been edited out of the final version uploaded to YouTube, although her audio feed remains.
Sources who spoke with Reuters viewed the move as counterintuitive to the democratic summit, which focused in part on countering China and Russia, two countries notably left off the invite list.
While a National Security Council spokesperson has pushed back on the claim that the White House directed the feed to be cut, other sources have claimed the move was ordered by higher-ups at the State Department.
Meanwhile, Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY) has called on US President Joe Biden to issue "an immediate public apology" to Taipei for what she characterized as the censorship of Taiwan.
"Tyrants around the world must know the US stands for freedom, self-expression, and democracy," tweeted the US congresswoman.