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Taiwan, U.S. have understanding on flag-raising incident: official

Taiwan, U.S. have understanding on flag-raising incident: official

Taipei, Jan. 7 (CNA) Taiwan and the United States have reached an understanding on a New Year's Day flag-raising ceremony held by Taiwan at Twin Oaks Estate in Washington D.C. that left the U.S. "disappointed," a Taiwanese official said Wednesday. Taiwan's representative to the U.S. Shen Lyushun said he has communicated with "senior U.S. officials" responsible for Taiwan policy about the Jan. 1 flag-raising ceremony. "They showed understanding," Shen said when fielding questions from lawmakers at a hearing of the Legislature's Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee. "I told U.S officials that it was our goodwill to not to inform them in advance," Shen said, explaining that that would make it easier for Washington to explain if Beijing lodged a complaint. It was the first time Taiwan held a flag-raising ceremony at the site --the former residence of Republic of China ambassadors to the U.S. -- since Washington severed ties with Taipei in late 1978 and recognized Beijing in 1979. The United States took issue with the ceremony because the Twin Oaks Estate remains in the hands of Taiwan's government and is considered a "representative compound" rather than a private home by Washington.
"It's inconsistent with the spirit of our policy, and it's violated our longstanding understanding on the conduct of our unofficial relations," U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in Washington at a press briefing on Tuesday. Lawmakers at Wednesday's hearing were concerned that the incident would effect the bilateral relationship, but Shen said that during his discussions with U.S. officials, their response was that "nothing has changed" in Taiwan-U.S. ties. Although the U.S. may have initially misunderstood the situation, the issue has been resolved after bilateral communications, Shen said. In a press briefing on Monday in Washington, Psaki said "nothing has changed as it relates to our relationship," but on Tuesday, she would not get into specifics when asked if there would be any consequences to Taiwan for the flag-raising ceremony.
"I think the message is what we've been conveying, which is that we're disappointed with the action," she said.
"The flag-raising ceremony violated our longstanding understanding on the conduct of our unofficial relations. We have a robust set of cultural relations, but we do not have diplomatic relations. And we'll continue to discuss this with the proper officials." Shen also admitted that he only reported the flag-raising ceremony to Ministry of Foreign Affairs headquarters in Taipei after it was held. He said he reported to the ministry on ongoing efforts to expand the use of Twin Oaks, but added that it was not necessary to report every individual activity. Located in Washington D.C., Twin Oaks was the official residence of Republic of China ambassadors to the U.S. between 1937 and 1978. Taiwan was able to retain ownership of the property after Washington decided to recognize the People's Republic of China instead of the Republic of China (Taiwan). For most of the time since, only cultural and social events have been allowed there, but as mutual trust between Taiwan and the U.S. improved, Taiwan's representative office was able to celebrate the ROC's National Day again at the venue in 2011, the first time in 32 years. In 2014, the national anthem of the ROC was also sung at the National Day reception at Twin Oaks and the ROC national flag was flown on the same flagpole used in the Jan. 1 flag-raising ceremony, according to Shen. (By Elaine Hou)


Updated : 2021-09-27 00:11 GMT+08:00