TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- In another gaffe by the Trump administration over it's policy toward Taiwan, the U.S. Department of Defense was forced to take down a report on that status of nuclear weapons arsenals after it inadvertently included Taiwan in a map of China, reported The Japan Times.
On Page 32 of a document titled "2018 Nuclear Posture Review," the first such report since the Obama administration in 2010, Taiwan was included in a red map of China in a chart labeled "Nuclear Delivery Systems Since 2010." The chart was meant to contrast the many new nuclear weapons systems being developed and fielded by Russia, China and North Korea, while the U.S. has only added nuclear capability to the F-35 fighter jet, but by including Taiwan in the chart, it infused an unintended political level of complexity by seeming to formally acknowledge China's claim to the country.
Screenshot of report including Taiwan in red as part of China.
Screenshot of revised version of the report with Taiwan no longer visible.
After The Japan Times contacted the Pentagon to comment on its apparent mysterious map move, which unilaterally unified China with Taiwan, a spokesperson said, "There was an error printed in the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review." The spokesperson said that the mistake was noticed when the document went online on Friday (Feb. 2) and the site was down for several hours until the error was corrected.
As to whether this represented a major change in the U.S. stance toward Taiwan, the spokesperson said to the Japanese newspaper:
"U.S. policy toward Taiwan has remained consistent throughout seven presidential administrations, and is based on the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, the three joint U.S.-China communiques, and the Six Assurances."
Much like numerous multinational corporations, the U.S. government has been on tear recently kowtowing to Beijing's latest strategy to have the country of Taiwan, its flag and map all removed from of its websites.
At some point in January, Taiwan's flag was unceremoniously removed from both the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and U.S. State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs CA websites, but when UDN reporters asked whether the exclusion of the flag was intentional or a technical error, Grace Choi, a spokesperson for the United States Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, responded on Jan. 23 that this does not indicate any change in American policy regarding Taiwan and that the U.S. continues to abide by The Three Joint Communiqués and the Taiwan Relations Act.
On Jan. 24, Andrew Lee (李憲章), spokesperson for Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), said that the ministry found the removal of the Taiwan flag from the U.S. governmental websites “inexplicable" and "inadmissible,” and that the ministry was very disappointed.
On Jan. 26 Liberty Times reported that all of the flags for all countries listed on the tab labeled "Country Information" had been suddenly removed from the CA website. Meanwhile, on the USTR website, under the tab titled "Countries & Regions," China, Mongolia, and Taiwan are oddly lumped together in the same region.
Under China, Mongolia, and Taiwan, all countries and special administrative regions including China, Hong Kong, Macau and Mongolia have their respective flags displayed, with only Taiwan missing its banner.
Meanwhile, the Taiwan flag has been missing from the State Department's main website since September of last year.
As for President Trump, the mercurial leader has vacillated several times on Taiwan since taking office, making his stance on the country unclear. On Dec. 2, 2016, he took an unprecedented direct phone call from newly elected Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), seeming to acknowledge the country as an independent, sovereign nation and then even suggested that the "one China" principle was "under negotiation" on Jan. 13, 2017.
However, in a phone call with Xi Jinping on Feb. 9, 2017, Trump officially acknowledged the "one China" policy, without gaining a single concession from this Chinese counterpart. By the end of the year, on Dec. 18, Trump said the defense of Taiwan was a high priority in a strategy document released that day.
Trump's true stance and mettle will soon be tested if the Taiwan Travel Act calling for high-level diplomatic exchanges between the U.S. and Taiwan becomes law, as China has repeatedly threatened retaliation if such exchanges occur.