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International relations

Taiwan bristles as flag vanishes from US government websites

Authorities lodge complaints over move seen as possible bow to China

The U.S. has valued Taiwan's strategic presence amid China's rise in Asia.   © Reuters

TAIPEI -- The erasure of Taiwan's flag from a number of U.S. government websites has made waves on the island, with authorities expressing deep disappointment to Washington, which claims its stance toward the Taiwanese government remains unchanged.

With China ramping up efforts to isolate Taiwan on the world stage, the move could be seen as an attempt by the U.S. to curry favor with Beijing.

Various Taiwanese media outlets have reported that the flag's "blue sky, white sun and wholly red earth" have since October been removed from introductory web pages for Taiwan belonging to the Department of State and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Other flags are said to have been removed from State Department pages as well.

Taiwan, which views itself as the sovereign Republic of China, calls the tricolored emblem its national flag. But amid heavy pressure from Beijing, the list of countries with diplomatic ties to Taipei has shrunk to just 20. Powers including the U.S. and Japan also lack formal relations with the island.

Though China generally opposes any use of the Taiwanese flag, the U.S. apparently kept it on public websites until just recently. Washington, wary of China's ascension in East Asia, has valued Taiwan's presence and role in the security situation there. The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump labeled China a "strategic competitor" alongside Russia in its new National Defense Strategy released Jan. 19.

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