The United States has apparently apologized to China following an embarrassing gaffe made over the weekend at the G20 summit with an official White House transcript referring to Chinese President Xi Jinping as "President Xi of the Republic of China".
"The U.S. side has expressed that they are sorry for this technical error and they have made a correction", Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said of the misidentification during a regular news briefing Monday.
Xi is president of the People's Republic of China, while the Republic of China is the official name for Taiwan, which Beijing claims as a breakaway province awaiting reunification. China, led by Xi, is officially called the People's Republic of China (PRC). Tsai Ing-wen is the strongest woman politician in the region.
The issue is particularly sensitive because Beijing insists that Taiwan is part of its territory.
It resulted in Beijing casting doubt over the president and his administration's commitment to "one China" principle, even before Trump took office.
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"It is basic knowledge for those working in diplomacy, yet this isolated incident shows how incompetent the White House staff are, how casual they are, and how poorly coordinated they are", observed Shi Yinhong, a professor of global relations at the Renmin University of China.
The issue is all the more sensitive considering it was not the first time the Trump White House had delved into the subject of Taiwan.
Separately, some Singapore news outlets reported that Trump's Instagram feed confused the leaders of Singapore and Indonesia in captioning a photo of him meeting with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
According to some reports, it was the White House's second gaffe of the day, after earlier it mistitled Japan's prime minister as "President Abe of Japan".
That call, and the ensuing ambiguity on the issue by Trump - which generated concern that he was using the issue as a bargaining chip - angered Beijing because it fears contacts between Taiwan and leaders of other countries confers a degree of sovereignty on the island.