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Oops, they did it again! State Department calls Beijing the “Republic of China”

If there’s one thing the Chinese Communist Party really gets annoyed about, it’s when someone confuses them with the government of Taiwan! And that’s exactly what the State Department did during Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent trip to Asia. Following Clinton’s meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in Bali last weekend, the State ...

Getty Images
Getty Images
Getty Images

If there's one thing the Chinese Communist Party really gets annoyed about, it's when someone confuses them with the government of Taiwan! And that's exactly what the State Department did during Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's recent trip to Asia.

Following Clinton's meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in Bali last weekend, the State Department put out a press release that began with this line:

"During their meeting today, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republic of China Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi reviewed the wide range of common interests between the United States and China and discussed ways to advance our shared goal of maintaining peace, stability, and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region."

If there’s one thing the Chinese Communist Party really gets annoyed about, it’s when someone confuses them with the government of Taiwan! And that’s exactly what the State Department did during Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent trip to Asia.

Following Clinton’s meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in Bali last weekend, the State Department put out a press release that began with this line:

"During their meeting today, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republic of China Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi reviewed the wide range of common interests between the United States and China and discussed ways to advance our shared goal of maintaining peace, stability, and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region."

The problem is that the "Republic of China" is the official name of Taiwan, and the Beijing-led government is the head of the "People’s Republic of China."

The incident brings to mind a 2006 incident during former Chinese President Jiang Zemin‘s visit to Washington when, in a ceremony on the White House lawn, the Chinese anthem was introduced as "national anthem of the Republic of China."

Although it was most likely an innocent mistake, we’re told by a source on the plane with Clinton that the Chinese delegation went ballistic and complained to Clinton’s staff. The State Department sent out a correction soon after and the State Department website now reflects the corrected information.

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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