US space agency has dealt a hard blow to China's ego by referring to Taiwan as a country. The move, whether inadvertent or planned, has upset Beijing and drawn an angry response from the Chinese communist party.
China considers self-ruled Taiwan as an integral part of the mainland and has not ruled out taking over the island through military action.
A spokeswoman for the office in Beijing that handles Taiwan affairs has said the US space organization has hurt the feelings of the country's 1.4 billion people.
NASA should correct its mistake as soon as possible," said Chinese official Zhu Fenglian. Meanwhile, the People's Daily, a communist party mouthpiece, said Nasa's action was "unforgivable."
NASA allowed the reference to Taiwan as a country in a drop-down box on its website wherein users can choose Taiwan as a 'country'. More than 18 million people have registered on the website, as per Bloomberg.
It's unclear is Nasa has taken note of the matter and if the agency will correct the apparent error. In a similar incident in 2018, US airlines were pressured after they referred to Taiwan as a country. Eventually the airlines removed the reference giving Taiwan the status of a country.
China considers Taiwan as a renegade province and hasn't abandoned the possibility of using force to annex the island. The power balance tilted in Beijing's favour back in the early 1970s when the United States recognized the People's Republic of China and started diplomatic relations with Beijing.
According to Beijing, Taiwan's reunification with the mainland is only a matter of time. China insists that it is the only large nation in the world that is yet to be completely reunified. "Resolving the Taiwan question so as to realise China's full reunification is the irresistible trend of the times, China's greatest national interest, the righteous path to follow and the longing of all Chinese people," China's defense minister Wei Fenghe had said a few years ago.
China Angry With US
China is angry with Washington for its support for Taiwan. Though the US has no formal ties with Taipei, it has pledged its commitment to support the island if it comes under siege. China has voiced its strong resentment over the US support in recent years.