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U.S. draws anger from China for inviting Taiwan to democracy summit next month

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U.S. draws anger from China for inviting Taiwan to democracy summit next month
President Joe Biden speaks with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a virtual summit on November 15, as seen in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. Photo by Sarah Silbiger/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 24 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden's administration has invited Taiwan to participate in a "Summit for Democracy" next month, a move that's angered China -- mainly because it creates a perception that the sovereign Asian island is not under Beijing's rule.

More than 100 countries are scheduled to take part in the virtual democracy summit, which is scheduled for Dec. 9 and 10. The State Department issued a list of participants for the first-of-its-kind event late on Tuesday -- and Taiwan's on it.

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The summit is part of Biden's foreign policy agenda, which includes efforts to reassert the United States as a leader on the global stage. Biden said in a foreign policy speech in February that "democracy is back at the center" of U.S. foreign policy.

The United States has long adopted the "One China" policy -- which means it formally recognizes mainland China as the legitimate "China," although Taiwan also claims the name. Most countries of the world, including the United States, do not formally recognize Taiwan as a nation.

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Beijing, on the other hand, claims ownership over the island and routinely cracks down on anything that questions that control. China responded with anger last week when Lithuania allowed Taiwan to open a de facto embassy in the Baltic nation.

A row of flags are seen ahead of National Day celebrations in Taipei, Taiwan, on October 6. File Photo by Ritchie B. Tongo/EPA-EFE
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Taiwan's foreign ministry told Newsweek that digital minister Audrey Tang and diplomat Hsiao Bi-Khim will participate in the U.S.-led summit.

"[Taiwan will] happily share with all countries Taiwan's democratic success story," the ministry said.

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The inclusion of Taiwan on the State Department's event list has drawn a strong rebuke from China.

"It's a mistake," Zhu Fenglian, spokeswoman for Beijing's Taiwan Affairs Office, told the state-run Global Times.

"We firmly oppose any form of official interaction between the U.S. and the island, which is a clear and consistent stance."

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Zhu reminded U.S. officials of its adoption of the "One China" principle.

The State Department says the summit will focus on challenges and opportunities facing democracies around the world, and provide a platform for leaders to announce various commitments, reforms and initiatives.

The invitation for Taiwan comes less than two weeks after Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in a virtual event, which was the first time the two engaged in bilateral talks since Biden took office in January.

Taiwan was a topic of discussion during the meeting, officials said, and Biden called on China to end "provocative" flights over Taiwanese airspace. Xi, on the other hand, discouraged the U.S. president's administration from getting involved with the dispute over the island.

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President Joe Biden leads a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador at the North American Leaders' Summit in the East Room of the White House on Thursday. Photo by Chris Kleponis/UPI | License Photo

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