Washington [US], March 13 (ANI): In a development that might irk China, United States Secretary of the state, Antony Blinken, has referred to Taiwan as "country", the term so far avoided by US officials.
He made the remark during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Wednesday on the Biden administration's foreign policy agenda.
Blinken was responding to California Republican Representative Young Kim, who called on the US to include Taiwan in the upcoming Democracy Summit.
"I share your view that Taiwan is a strong democracy, a very strong technological power, and a country that can contribute to the world, not just to its own people. COVID is a very good example of that," Sputnik quoted Blinken as saying.
The State Department used to have an unwritten policy to avoid using the word "country" when referring to the self-ruled island as part of the US commitment to Beijing's so-called "One China Policy", according to Sputnik.
Beijing claims full sovereignty over Taiwan, a democracy of almost 24 million people located off the southeastern coast of mainland China, despite the fact that the two sides have been governed separately for more than seven decades.
Taipei, on the other hand, has countered the Chinese aggression by increasing strategic ties with democracies including the US, which has been repeatedly opposed by Beijing.
In recent months, China has increased its military activities around Taiwan. According to China, it is responding to what it calls "collusion" between Taipei and Washington, Taiwan's main international backer and weapons supplier, according to CNN.
In November, the US and Taiwan signed a blueprint for closer economic ties in Washington.
Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping has already made his intentions clear about Taiwan as he has vowed to never allow the island to become independent and has refused to rule out the use of force if necessary.
The previous US administration in January announced lifting restrictions governing official US contacts with the country.
Former Foreign Secretary Michael Pompeo had said that executive branch agencies should consider all "contact guidelines" regarding relations with Taiwan previously issued by the Department of State under authorities delegated to the Secretary of State to be 'null and void'.
In February, Senator Rick Scott reintroduced the Taiwan Invasion Prevention Act, sponsored by Congressman Guy Reschenthaler in the US House of Representatives, to protect Taiwan from Communist China's growing aggression. (ANI)