China has erupted at NASA for the “unforgivable” crime of labelling Taiwan a country.
Beijing was incensed after reports that NASA’s “Send your name to Mars” program had the word “Taiwan” in the “Country” option of the application page.
The program gives participants the opportunity to have their names engraved onto microchips that will be sent to Mars on the 2026 mission.
The Chinese government noticed that Taiwan was listed as a separate country on the website’s menu – calling on NASA to “correct its mistake as soon as possible”.
Communist Party mouthpiece People.cn blasted NASA with a fiery opinion piece.
“Whether intentionally or unintentionally, whether it is touching porcelain or being fearless, this kind of mistake is unforgivable,” it stated.
“There is only one China in the world, and Taiwan is an inalienable part of China. The People’s Republic of China is the only legitimate government representing China.”
Nasa urged to correct its Taiwan ‘mistake’
Zhu Fengliang, spokesman for Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said NASA had “violated its one-China principle”.
He said NASA had “also hurt the feelings of the Chinese people and called on the agency to “respect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
“It has severely violated the one-China principle and the provisions of the three China-US joint communiqués. It is not only against the international consensus on the one-China principle, but also hurts Chinese people’s feelings,” Mr Zhu said.
The China Daily newspaper called NASA’s move a “grave error” and “an unforgivable act”.
“NASA has broken international rules and hurt the feelings of the Chinese people,” it stated.
State-run newspaper Global Times also urged NASA to correct its “mistake”.
China has become increasingly reactive to any move by businesses to criticise China or “violate” its one-China principle.
Western brands including H&M and Nike have faced growing Chinese backlash over their stance on alleged abuses in the Xinjiang region.
Tensions escalating as Japan and US to discuss
Officially the Republic of China (ROC), the island of Taiwan has been governed separately from the mainland since the Kuomintang lost the Chinese Civil War.
The People’s Republic of China (PRC) refuses to maintain diplomatic relations with nations that recognise the ROC.
The majority of countries have sided with the PRC but continue to conduct economic and cultural exchanges with the ROC.
The stability of the Taiwan Strait will be discussed when Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga visits Washington next month for a summit with US President Joe Biden.
The two sides are reportedly in discussions to a joint statement after the summit expressing concern about China’s move to empower its coast guard to fire on foreign vessels.
China has reportedly begun warplane exercises around the island aimed at displaying its ability to isolate Taiwan.
Admiral Philip Davidson, commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command said recently China could take military action against the island within the next six years.