January 1, 2015, Taiwan’s de facto embassy in Washington marked the new year by doing something that hadn’t been dared since Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979: it raised the flag of the Republic of China.
This of course immediately raised the ire of the People’s Republic of China in Beijing. “We resolutely oppose the so-called flag-raising ceremony by Taiwan’s agency in the United States and have lodged solemn representations with the United States,” China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a news conference.
Does this mark the beginning of an auspicious year for cross-strait and accross-the-pond diplomatic relations?
Taiwan’s De facto ambassador to the United States, Shen Lyu-shun(沈呂巡) made the decision to raise the Republic of China flag to mark the founding day of the Republic of China. Shen defended his actions after being called back to Taipei to face a thorough grilling by the Chinese Nationalist Party dominated parliament. “The US understood that we did not notify them in advance out of goodwill… so the US wouldn’t be in a difficult position if China lodged a protest.” he said.
US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki stated “we are disappointed with the action” and the US “did not know about the flag raising in advance.”
“No US government personnel attended the event in any capacity,” she said.
Meanwhile in Taipei, it was a DPP legislator who criticized Shen: “You did this for your own credit and caused a diplomatic incident and setback in relations.” While independent legislator Lee Tung-hao criticized Beijing’s response: “The problem is with China’s foreign ministry which didn’t think clearly and respect our space in the international community.”
What other country in the world would be criticised for raising it’s own flag, at its own embassy, on its own foundation day? As neither US, nor PRC officials were invited, it’s really none of their business.
Sources: Reuters, AFP