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US plays down change as China angered by Taiwan ‘fact sheet’

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The United States insisted Tuesday that nothing had changed in its stance toward Taiwan after Beijing was angered by an updated fact sheet that used less explicit language to reject the island’s independence.

The State Department said the United States still only recognized Beijing as China’s government and was simply polishing off an online fact sheet which had not altered in several years.

“There’s been no change in our policy. All we have done is update a fact sheet, and that’s something that we routinely do with our relationships around the world,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.

“We call upon the PRC to behave responsibly and to not manufacture pretenses to increase pressure on Taiwan,” he said, referring to the People’s Republic of China.

The updated fact sheet, which appeared on the State Department’s website last week, said that the United States “has a longstanding One China policy, which is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the three US-China Joint Communiques and the Six Assurances.”

It was referring to key promises made in the era when the United States switched recognition from Taipei to Beijing, which considers the island a province awaiting reunification.

The earlier fact sheet explicitly spelled out promises from the 1979 joint communique, saying that the United States acknowledges Beijing’s position that Taiwan is part of China and stating that the United States “does not support Taiwan’s independence.”

In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that President Joe Biden needed to take “real actions” to show he opposes Taiwan’s independence.

“The US’ latest modification of the fact sheet is a trick to obscure and write off the One China principle,” he told reporters.

“Such political manipulation of the Taiwan question and the attempt to change the status quo across the Taiwan Strait will hurt the US itself.”

China’s defeated nationalists fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing the civil war but the island has since transformed into a vibrant democracy and economic powerhouse.

Taiwan enjoys wide backing in the United States, which is required under domestic law to provide the island with weapons to defend itself.

The United States has increasingly voiced support for Taiwan’s role in international organizations, a step fiercely opposed by Beijing.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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