What Is the Hullabaloo About?

US State Department changes fact sheet and the CCP bristles
May 19, 2022 Updated: June 7, 2022

Commentary

The Cambridge English dictionary defines hullabaloo as “a loud noise made by people who are angry or annoyed; a lot of angry comments made in public about someone or something” and a fuss or commotion for something of little or no importance.

Hullabaloo is the perfect word for what the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed on May 10 about a change made to the U.S. Department of State’s (DOS) Taiwan fact sheet.

Each U.S. administration reviews all documents made by the previous administration. The Taiwan fact sheet was out-of-date, and the Biden administration’s DOS updated it.

The previous factsheet stated the following in the first two paragraphs:

The United States and Taiwan enjoy a robust unofficial relationship. The 1979 U.S.-P.R.C. Joint Communique switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing. In the Joint Communique, the United States recognized the Government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal government of China, acknowledging the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China. The Joint Communique also stated that the people of the United States will maintain cultural, commercial, and other unofficial relations with the people of Taiwan. The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) is responsible for implementing U.S. policy toward Taiwan.

“The United States does not support Taiwan independence. Maintaining strong, unofficial relations with Taiwan is a major U.S. goal, in line with the U.S. desire to further peace and stability in Asia. The 1979 Taiwan Relations Act provides the legal basis for the unofficial relationship between the United States and Taiwan, and enshrines the U.S. commitment to assist Taiwan in maintaining its defensive capability. The United States insists on the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait differences, opposes unilateral changes to the status quo by either side, and encourages both sides to continue their constructive dialogue on the basis of dignity and respect.”

TAIWAN-US-CHINA-MILITARY
Four upgraded U.S.-made F-16 V fighters fly during a demonstration at a ceremony at the Chiayi Air Force in southern Taiwan on Nov. 18, 2021. (Sam Yeh/AFP via Getty Images)

The new fact sheet’s first two paragraphs read as follows:

“As a leading democracy and a technological powerhouse, Taiwan is a key U.S. partner in the Indo-Pacific. The United States and Taiwan share similar values, deep commercial and economic links, and strong people-to-people ties, which form the bedrock of our friendship and serve as the impetus for expanding U.S. engagement with Taiwan. Through the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), a non-governmental organization mandated by the Taiwan Relations Act to carry out the United States’ unofficial relations with Taiwan, our cooperation with Taiwan continues to expand. Taiwan has become an important U.S. partner in trade and investment, health, semiconductor and other critical supply chains, investment screening, science and technology, education, and advancing democratic values.

“The United States has a longstanding one China policy, which is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the three U.S.-China Joint Communiques, and the Six Assurances. Though the United States does not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, we have a robust unofficial relationship as well as an abiding interest in maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. Consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act, the United States makes available defense articles and services as necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability. The United States continues to encourage the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait differences consistent with the wishes and best interests of the people of Taiwan.”

What Were the Updates?

The older fact sheet discussed the CCP and the CCP’s view of Taiwan: “The 1979 U.S.-P.R.C. Joint Communique switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing. In the Joint Communique, the United States recognized the Government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal government of China, acknowledging the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China.”

Why would the DOS publish the CCP’s view of Taiwan?

The CCP’s job is to publish the CCP’s view of Taiwan, not the DOS. The DOS update removes the CCP’s view of Taiwan. Most importantly, the U.S. position on the CCP’s view is that we acknowledge Beijing has a different view than Washington.

The CCP thinks that we agree with it because we publish its view. This inference is incorrect; the correction removes the possibility that people will assume the United States agrees with the CCP because Washington publishes the CCP’s view on the DOS website.

Did the DOS change any of the key references to U.S. policy on Taiwan?

No. The DOS streamlined the new document and mentions all the U.S.-Republic of China (Taiwan) agreements: “The United States has a longstanding one China policy, which is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the three U.S.-China Joint Communiques, and the Six Assurances.”

What else did the CCP’s foreign ministry complain about?

During the daily foreign ministry briefing, a reporter asked the spokesperson about the dropped references to “Taiwan is part of China” and “The United States does not support ‘Taiwan independence.’”

Foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian stated the CCP’s position on Taiwan. There “is only one China in the world, Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory, and the government of the People’s Republic of China is the only legitimate government representing the whole of China.”

He noted the United States recognizes “one China” in the previous and the new fact sheet. The rest of his discussion concerned what the CCP wants the United States to agree to and threatened the “attempt to change the status quo across the Taiwan Strait will inevitably lead to fire.”

Zhao finished his answer by restating what the United States agrees to (“the one-China principle and the three Sino-U.S. joint communiques, abide by the political commitments made to China on the Taiwan issue”), added the document should declare the “U.S. does not support ‘Taiwan independence,’” and reminded the audience that President Joe Biden said the United States does not support Taiwan independence.

Using extreme hyperbole, the spokesperson concluded his answer to the question with more threats. In effect, he is the mouthpiece expressing disappointment that the United States is not repeating the CCP propaganda.

In honor of Chairman Xi Jinping’s least favorite cartoon figure, this famous quote from the famous and immortal Winnie the Pooh is an appropriate expression of the tizzy between the CCP and the United States over the Taiwan fact sheets: “Oh, bother.”

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Guermantes Lailari is a retired USAF Foreign Area Officer specializing in the Middle East and Europe as well as counterterrorism, irregular warfare, and missile defense. He has studied, worked, and served in the Middle East and North Africa for over 14 years and similarly in Europe for six years. He was a U.S. Air Force Attaché in the Middle East, served in Iraq and holds advanced degrees in International Relations and Strategic Intelligence. He researches authoritarian and totalitarian regimes that threaten democracies. He will be a Taiwan Fellow in Taipei during 2022.