The Biden administration reportedly cut the video feed of a Taiwanese minister during the Summit for Democracy to appease China last week, after he displayed a map showing Taiwan colored differently than China.
According to a report from Reuters, sources familiar with the matter claim “the video feed showing [Digital Minister Audrey Tang] was cut during a panel discussion and replaced with audio only – at the behest of the White House.”
“The White House was concerned that differentiating Taiwan and China on a map in a U.S.-hosted conference — to which Taiwan had been invited in a show of support at a time when it is under intense pressure from Beijing — could be seen as being at odds with Washington’s ‘one-China’ policy, which avoids taking a position as to whether Taiwan is part of China,” the sources reportedly said.
Tang’s presentation included a color-coded map from the South African non-governmental organization CIVICUS, which ranked the world “by openness on civil rights.” The displayed map included most of Asia, which showed Taiwan as “open” and colored green. Other countries in the region were designated as “closed,” “narrowed,” “repressed,” or “obstructed,” and colored red, yellow, orange, and gold, respectively.
When the conference moderator returned to Tang a few moments later, there was no video of the minister, “just audio, and a screenshot captioned: ‘Minister Audrey Tang Taiwan.'” An onscreen disclaimer appeared on the feed not long after, stating, “[A]ny opinions expressed by individuals on this panel are those of the individual, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States government.”
“It was clearly policy concerns,” one source allegedly said in reference to the White House’s involvement. “This was completely an internal overreaction.”
The administration has since attempted to deny any role in the incident, with a spokesman for the National Security Council telling Reuters their characterization of the matter was “inaccurate.”
“At no time did the White House direct that Minister Tang’s video feed be cut,” the official claimed.
The Biden State Department also attempted to rationalize the situation, with a representative calling it an “honest mistake” and claiming the incident was a result of “confusion” over screen-sharing.
“We valued Minister Tang’s participation, which showcased Taiwan’s world-class expertise on issues of transparent governance, human rights, and countering disinformation,” the official said.