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Tipsheet

Embarrassing: Fearing Chinese Backlash, Biden WH Censors Taiwanese Presentation at Democracy Summit

I didn't get around to this story yesterday, but it needs to be highlighted. We've cited seemingly endless examples of Western governments, companies, organizations, and high-profile individuals kowtowing to the delicate sensibilities of China's Communist regime in recent years. The list of culprits is far too lengthy to enumerate at this stage – to the point, in fact, that tracking examples of those who actually do the opposite is a far easier task. Standing up to the CCP is a relatively rare event these days. The United States government has declared China's oppression of the Uighur minority in Xinjiang a genocide, but the Biden administration isn't consistently acting like they really mean it.

They're leading a diplomatic boycott of the Olympic Games in Beijing, but have stopped short of a full boycott. They've imposed human rights sanctions, but they're also reportedly instructing congressional Democrats to avoid sending anti-slave labor legislation to the president's desk because various elements within the administration would like to delay and water it down. And then there was this utterly embarrassing display at a democracy summit last week – at which panicked US officials are accused of censoring the presentation of a Taiwanese representative, for fear of offending Chinese Communist Party officials. Details from Reuters: 

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A video feed of a Taiwanese minister was cut during U.S. President Joe Biden's Summit for Democracy last week after a map in her slide presentation showed Taiwan in a different color to China, which claims the island as its own. Sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that Friday's slide show by Taiwanese Digital Minister Audrey Tang caused consternation among U.S. officials after the map appeared in her video feed for about a minute...The sources, who did not want to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter, said the video feed showing 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 said. The State Department said "confusion" over screen-sharing resulted in Tang's video feed being dropped, calling it "an honest mistake."

Further reporting reveals that it was not an "honest mistake" at all. The graphic in question mapped the state of civil rights in the region, with several countries – including China and North Korea – accurately labeled as "closed." Taiwan, by contrast, was colored green for "open." Taiwan is a free country and a democracy that protects liberties. China, quite manifestly, is not. This truth-telling evidently caused some Biden officials to freak out and pull the plug on the Taiwanese video feed: 

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When the moderator returned to Tang a few minutes later, there was no video of her, just audio, and a screenshot captioned: "Minister Audrey Tang Taiwan." An onscreen disclaimer later declared: "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." One source told Reuters the map generated an instant email flurry among U.S. officials and the White House National Security Council (NSC) angrily contacted the State Department, concerned it appeared to show Taiwan as a distinct country. Washington complained to Taiwan's government, which in turn was angry that Tang's video had been cut. The source called the U.S. move an over-reaction as the map was not inherently about national boundaries, but the NSC was also angry as the slide had not appeared in "dry-run" versions of the presentation before the summit, raising questions as to whether there was intentional messaging by Tang and Taiwan. "They choked," the source said of the White House reaction. A second source directly involved in the summit said the video booth operator acted on White House instructions. "It was clearly policy concerns," the source said, adding: "This was completely an internal overreaction."

So, again, not an "honest mistake." The White House disputes the report, but there is no good reason to believe their spin. Taiwan is publicly affirming the "glitch" excuse, but what choice do they have? They don't want to antagonize an American administration at a moment when China is making bellicose moves toward Taiwanese security and sovereignty. Watch the video for yourself, and note the detail above alleging that the administration reportedly even objected through diplomatic back channels after ordering the censorship. Also, that on-screen disclaimer didn't appear out of nowhere. This was not a "screen-sharing" misfire, or whatever. This was an episode of American officials scrambling to avoid causing offense to the ever-aggrieved Chinese Communist Party.

Think about this: In recent years, the Chinese government has violated international law by trampling all over Hong Kong's democracy, arresting freedom advocates and journalists in the process. They've lied about the origins of a pandemic that began in their country, covering up and obstructing investigations into the exact provenance, while "disappearing" internal whistleblowers and critics. Millions are dead from this virus, against which the CCP has distributed defective PPE and weak vaccines. They've made aggressive moves in the South China Sea, killed Indian troops, and repeatedly menaced Taiwan. They've engaged in widespread espionage and intellectual property theft. And then, of course, there's the genocide and concentration camps. And with all of that as a backdrop, America's government had a meltdown because a Taiwanese minister accurately depicted her country as an open democracy in a presentation, I'll repeat, at a democracy summit. And this detail reads like a sick joke: 

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The sources saw the move during a panel on "countering digital authoritarianism" as at odds with the summit's mission of bolstering democracy in the face of challenges from China and others. They also said it could signal that the administration's support for Taiwan was not as "rock solid" as it has repeatedly stated.

Yeah, you think? The Biden White House reportedly ordered Beijing-style censorship at an ostensibly pro-democracy event, specifically during a panel on countering digital authoritarianism. It is literally beyond parody. Jim Geraghty is rightly appalled by the whole spectacle: 

Our leaders are such damnable wimps. We say we want to stand up for democracy and that we won’t get bullied by authoritarians. And then we bend over backwards to avoid offending the far-reaching and ever-changing sensitivities of the brutes in Beijing. There’s no need for China to censor what our leaders can say to us. Our leaders are now preemptively censoring themselves. If you’re afraid of the Taiwanese representative showing a map that indicates Taiwan is a separate country at your much-touted “Democracy Summit,” why did you invite her? And if you’re afraid to have a Taiwanese representative speaking her mind in a way that might irk the Chinese government — keeping in mind that Taiwanese representatives irk the Chinese government by existing — why are you hosting a much-touted “Democracy Summit”?

Good questions, to which there are only depressing and/or dishonest answers. I'll leave you with a tweet from Sen. Marco Rubio calling out the insulting game Democrats are playing in an effort to look "tough" on China while doing the White House's bidding by avoiding any of the posturing ends up having the force of law. Rubio's tweet was flagged by Allahpundit, who also made this observation about the US-Taiwan flap: 

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Apparently official U.S. guidelines require that maps used by the federal government denote China and Taiwan with the same color, a nod to America’s “one China” policy, but with the caveat that Taiwan can be pictured as distinct if the context requires it. It did in this case. How is Taiwan supposed to compare the openness of its society to the rest of east Asia without distinguishing China? The absurdity of this incident gets worse when you remember that the White House invited Taiwan to participate in its democracy summit without extending the same honor to China precisely because it wanted to contrast their respective styles of government.


Meanwhile, China's pressure campaign, including economic blackmail, continues apace.  It's happening in our hemisphere:

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