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US invitation of Taiwan to democracy summit angers China

Janel Cannon

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration has invited Taiwan to its Summit for Democracy next month, the State Department announced, prompting sharp criticism from China, which considers the self-ruled island as its territory.

The summit makes good on a pledge President Joe Biden made during his campaign, and it reflects his emphasis on returning the U.S. to a global leadership position among world democracies. The event is aimed at gathering government, civil society and private sector leaders to work together on fighting authoritarianism and global corruption and defending human rights.

The invitation list features 110 countries, including Taiwan, but does not include China or Russia. The inclusion of Taiwan comes as tensions between the U.S. and China have ramped up over America’s approach to the island nation.

The United States’ “One China” policy recognizes Beijing as the government of China but allows informal relations and defense ties with Taipei.

But in late October, Biden set off alarm bells in Beijing by saying the U.S. has a firm commitment to help Taiwan defend itself in the event of a Chinese attack.

And during a three-hour virtual meeting earlier this month between Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Biden reiterated U.S. support for the “One China” policy but also said he “strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” according to the White House.

The democracy summit invite list set off a new round of criticism from Beijing.

“What the U.S. did proves that the so-called democracy is just a pretext and tool for it to pursue geopolitical goals, suppress other countries, divide the world, serve its own interest and maintain its hegemony in the world,” said Zhao Lijian, spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Zhu Fenglian, spokesperson for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said Wednesday “we firmly oppose any form of official contacts between the U.S. and the Chinese region of Taiwan.”

The invite list underscores the challenging geopolitics Biden will have to navigate at the summit. While U.S. allies like Japan and South Korea were invited, still others like Vietnam, Egypt and NATO member Turkey were not.

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AP video producer Liu Zheng in Beijing contributed.

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