White House anti-epidemic tweet containing ROC flag deleted, Taiwan calls on US not to cause “misunderstanding”

After the White House removed a tweet from social media that included the Republic of China flag, Taiwan’s foreign ministry has instructed its representative in the U.S. to remind the Biden administration not to cause unnecessary “speculation or misunderstanding.

According to Reuters and Taiwanese media reports, the “White House 2019 Coronavirus Response Team” tweeted on social media on Tuesday (July 6) detailing the types of vaccines donated by the U.S. to various countries around the world and when they were delivered, using the flags of each country to represent them. The tweet also directly listed the Modena vaccine donated to Taiwan and its arrival time, and included the flag of the Republic of China, which represents Taiwan.

Three U.S. federal senators visited Taiwan on June 6 aboard a U.S. military transport plane and pledged to donate 750,000 doses of Modena vaccine to Taiwan, and the Biden administration later donated an additional 1.75 million doses. A total of 2.5 million doses of Modena vaccine arrived in Taiwan on June 20.

When Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen saw this White House tweet about the U.S. vaccine donation to many countries around the world, she not only retweeted it immediately, but also left a special message: “Thanks to the generosity of the United States, we will overcome this pandemic together.”

But a day later, on Wednesday (July 7), the White House tweet was deleted.

Reuters reported the story by specifically mentioning that the United States, like most countries, does not officially recognize the government of Taiwan, but maintains official relations with Beijing, which adheres to a “one-China” policy and claims Taiwan as part of Chinese territory. Any suggestion or implication that Taiwan is, or should be, recognized as an independent country would provoke strong resentment from Beijing.

Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ou Jiang’an was quoted by Reuters as saying that the ministry had noticed the tweet had disappeared and that “there are different interpretations in the media as to why the tweet was deleted, and the ministry has asked the (Taiwan) representative office in the U.S. to remind the U.S. that the deletion of the tweet in question should not lead to unnecessary speculation or misunderstanding from all walks of life.

Reuters had contacted the de facto U.S. embassy in Taiwan, the AIT office in Taipei, seeking comment on the tweets’ deletion, but the AIT asked the reporter to ask the White House. Reuters said it was unable to contact the White House in the middle of the night because of the time difference.

The Reuters report said the United States is Taiwan’s most important international supporter and arms supplier. The Biden administration has also confirmed its support for Taiwan. But Kurt Campbell, the White House’s National Security Council coordinator for Indo-Pacific affairs, said Tuesday (July 6) during a video chat with a U.S. think tank that the United States supports Taiwan’s dignity and maintains a solid U.S.-Taiwan unofficial relationship, but that it does not support Taiwan’s independence.

Taiwan Foreign Ministry spokesman Ou Jiang’an told Reuters that mutual trust between Taiwan and the U.S. has “continued to improve” in recent years and that the Biden team has demonstrated strong support for Taiwan, including U.S. vaccine donations to Taiwan.

In response to White House National Security Council Coordinator for Indo-Pacific Affairs Campbell’s statement that the United States does not support Taiwan’s independence, Ou Jiang’an responded earlier at a regular press conference in Taipei that the Republic of China on Taiwan is a sovereign state and not part of the People’s Republic of China, “which is a fact and the status quo. The Taiwan government has always been prudent in handling cross-strait relations in a steady and pragmatic manner.