Taiwan's Outrage Over China's Claim in UN Amid Earthquake Tragedy

Written by Camilla Jessen

Apr.05 - 2024 9:43 AM CET

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Photo: Elwynn / Shutterstock.com
Photo: Elwynn / Shutterstock.com
Amid the devastation of a powerful earthquake in Taiwan, geopolitical tensions flare as China's "Taiwan region" remarks provoke outrage in Taipei.

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The aftermath of a devastating earthquake in Taiwan, resulting in the tragic loss of at least 9 lives and injuries to over 930 people, has mobilized international support and ignited a fresh wave of political controversy. At the heart of this geopolitical storm is China's reference to Taiwan as its "Taiwan region," a term that has drawn sharp criticism from Taiwanese officials.

A Controversial Acknowledgment

On April 3, China's Deputy Ambassador Geng Shuang thanked the world for assisting the island after a severe earthquake, speaking from the UN podium.

But Shuang's remarks did not go unnoticed, as reported by the news agency Voice of America.

By referring to the earthquake-affected area as the "Taiwan region" of China and offering condolences and support on behalf of mainland China, the Chinese official inadvertently stirred a diplomatic storm.

"Some delegates said in a statement that a strong earthquake has hit the Taiwan area in China. Mainland China is closely monitoring the damage caused by the earthquake. We have already expressed our sincere condolences to the affected Taiwanese compatriots and are ready to provide relief due to the natural disaster. We thank the international community for their care and best wishes," reads the transcript of the Chinese diplomat's speech.

Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs was quick to denounce China's actions. In response, Taipei officials released a statement condemning what they described as China's "shameless use of the Taiwan earthquake to conduct cognitive operations at the international level," a term Taiwan uses to denote China's psychological warfare against the island.

The Foreign Ministry of Taiwan further stated that the speech illustrates China's lack of goodwill towards Taiwan.

Amid Natural Disaster, Political Tensions Simmer

The earthquake in Taiwan, which resulted in at least 930 injuries and nine fatalities, temporarily shifted focus from the island's political challenges to its immediate humanitarian needs.

However, remarks made by China at the UN swiftly reignited the geopolitical dispute, with Taiwan concerned that any perceived internal discord or vulnerability could be exploited by China. This concern arises at a particularly sensitive time as Taiwan navigates its complex relationships with both the United States and China, with the former providing subdued offers of assistance in the aftermath of the earthquake.

"The United States is ready to provide any necessary assistance. We pray for all the victims," said Adrienne Watson, spokeswoman for the National Security Council of the White House, on April 3.

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