It's been revealed that at last week's Summit for Democracy the Biden administration was so afraid of offending China that it temporarily shut off the video feed of a Taiwanese minister at the moment a map was featured on the screen depicting Taiwan as independent of China.
Reuters first reported that in this "curious" case - which the White House is now disputing that it had awareness of - the video of Taiwanese Digital Minister Audrey Tang was abruptly pulled after the official showed the controversial map for about a minute on Friday.
In place of the cut video, there appeared words on the screen that said: "Any opinions expressed by individuals on this panel are those of the individual, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States government."
The intervention came despite that China wasn't even invited to the democracy summit in the first place, and was not represented at the virtual forum. Beijing was further angered that Taiwan was invited, despite not being a globally recognized country, as China claims it as its own.
The Hill summarized specifics of the map as follows:
The video was replaced with an audio-only feed at the White House's request, the news wire reported. The presentation showed a color-coded map that ranked global openness to civil rights. Taiwan was labeled as green, or "open," while other countries in Asia were marked as "closed," "repressed," "obstructed" or "narrowed.
The Reuters report, based on its sources, indicated the video feed was cut was on deliberate orders from the White House given Tang's presentation and map were in direct contradiction of the US official "one China" policy, further coming at a sensitive moment for US-China relations, which remain at a historic low point.
Watch what every nation's officials logged into the summit saw, as the moderator quickly clamped down on Tang's presentation, trying to explain it away as part of the summit's "diversity" of opinions:
Irony @ The Summit for Democracy 12/10— Peznt Journalist (@PezntJournalist) December 13, 2021
1. Taiwan minister's map shows Taiwan separate from China
2. Video feed is cut when it comes back to her
3. "Any opinions expressed by individuals on this panel are those of the individual, and do not necessarily reflect the views US gov't" pic.twitter.com/WYwSGhzFQ4
The State Department, however, is claiming it was an "honest mistake" due to "confusion" and that the video feed was not supposed to have been cut off for any length of time.
However, emails also seen by Reuters directly contradict the administration's rebuttal, as NY Post summarizes:
According to Reuters, Tang’s map sparked a flurry of emails between US officials, and the National Security Council reached out to the State Department to complain that the slide had not been included in "dry-run" versions of the presentation before the summit.
"They choked," one source told Reuters of the White House reaction.
“It was clearly policy concerns,” a second source told Reuters, adding: "This was completely an internal overreaction."
Ironically this act of "internal overreaction" which literally led to aggressive on-the-spot censorship of the Taiwan official's speech, was done at Biden's democracy summit which has been billed as an attempt to "tackle the greatest threats faced by democracies today through collective action." Though clearly Taiwan's delegation experienced something very different.