Fri. Dec 3rd, 2021

The US invitation to democratically governed Taiwan is likely to infuriate China, which sees the island as an apostate province.

The administration of US President Joe Biden has invited Taiwan to the forthcoming US-hosted Democracy Summit, a move quickly condemned by China, which island view as an apostate province.

Taiwan, which does not officially recognize the US as a sovereign nation, has been included in a list of 110 invited to the virtual summit, which will be held on 9 and 10 December.

Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said the government would be represented at the event, which Biden announced in August, by Digital Minister Audrey Tang and Hsiao Bi-khim, Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to Washington.

“Our country’s invitation to participate in the ‘Summit for Democracy’ is a confirmation of Taiwan’s efforts to promote the values ​​of democracy and human rights over the years,” the ministry said.

Taipei thanked Biden on Wednesday for its inclusion.

“Through this summit, Taiwan can share its democratic success story,” Xavier Chang, spokesman for the Presidential Office, told reporters in a statement.

Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Wednesday that Beijing “strongly opposes the US invitation to the Taiwanese authorities to take part in the so-called Summit for Democracy.”

The spokesman added that Taiwan “is an inalienable part of Chinese territory.”

All other participants so far included on the US State Department’s list are countries whose sovereignty is officially recognized by Washington. U.S. rivals Russia and China are not included, nor is Turkey, whose president Recep Tayyip Erdogan was previously called an “autocrat” by Biden.

Other countries that Washington had hoped would represent democratic progress, but have since seen setbacks amid military coups or conflict – and were not invited – include Sudan, Myanmar, Ethiopia and Afghanistan.

“Play with fire”

China has historically honed any moves that are seen as giving international legitimacy to Taiwan, including a recent press, supported by the US, for the island to play a greater role in the United Nations and its wide collection of international bodies.

While maintaining a strategy of strategic ambiguity towards Taiwan, the US continues to support and maintain unofficial relations with the island, as set out in the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, and has maintained Taiwan as a beacon of democracy.

In October, however, Biden appeared to have broken with long-standing U.S. policy toward Taiwan, saying Washington would come to Taipei’s defense in the event of a Chinese attack.

The White House later rejected the statement, saying the US position on the island remained unchanged.

Beijing has meanwhile not ruled out Taiwan taken over with violence as it has more and more put other countries under pressure downgrade or sever ties with Taiwan.

After a virtual summit in early November between Biden and Xi Jinping, state media reported that China’s leader Biden had warned that encouraging Taiwanese independence would “play with fire”.

Biden, meanwhile, told Xi the US was strongly opposed to unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Strait of Taiwan, according to the White House.

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