During President Joe Biden’s Summit for Democracy last Friday, White House personnel shut off a Taiwanese minister’s video stream. In her slide presentation, Taiwan was colored differently on a map than China, claiming control over the island. Taiwanese Digital Minister Audrey Tang’s address raised eyebrows among US officials.
Moreover, Taiwan was invited to the meeting as a show of support when Beijing was putting a lot of pressure on it. The White House was afraid that separating Taiwan and China on a map at a meeting hosted by the United States would be regarded as contradicting Washington’s “one-China” policy.
The Biden Administration denies cutting the stream on purpose. According to a State Department Official, the broadcast was terminated due to “confusion” regarding screen-sharing. They appreciated Minister Tang’s involvement, which demonstrated Taiwan’s world-class knowledge on problems of transparent government, human rights, and misinformation countermeasures, added the spokeswoman.
Tang displayed a color-coded global map that ranked countries based on their civil rights transparency. The map was created by CIVICUS, a South African non-profit that monitors civil rights worldwide.
Taiwan is the only country in the Far East with a green “open” certification for civil rights. Other countries in the region, including the United States and some of its allies, are color-coded as “closed,” “repressed,” “obstructed,” or “narrowed.” Concerned that the map depicted Taiwan as a separate entity from China, the White House National Security Council approached the State Department. Washington complained about Taiwan’s Administration, enraged that Tang’s video had been censored.
Taiwan’s foreign ministry attributed the stoppage to “technical issues.” According to Reuter’s sources, the White House asked the camera booth operator to turn off Tang’s broadcast. They saw the irony that one of the panelists was banned during a talk on “countering digital authoritarianism” as part of a more extensive conversation on strengthening democracy.