Chinese State Media Warns of 'Severe' Military Measures if Taiwan Office in U.S. Changes Name

In China on Sunday, a state-run media outlet warned of "severe" military and economic consequences against Taiwan if Washington allows the self-ruled island to change the name of its representative office in the U.S.

The Global Times referred to a Financial Times report from Friday saying that President Joe Biden's administration is considering allowing the office to change its name from the "Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office" (TECRO) to the "Taiwan Representative Office."

The Chinese paper warned such a change would seriously anger Beijing and provoke a "severe" military and economic response:

"If the U.S. and the Taiwan island change the names, they are suspected of touching the red line of China's Anti-Secession Law, and the Chinese mainland will have to take severe economic and military measures to combat the arrogance of the U.S. and the island of Taiwan. At that time, the mainland should impose severe economic sanctions on the island and even carry out an economic blockade on the island, depending on the circumstances."

China views Taiwan as part of its sovereign territory and has long warned Washington against offering any support to the self-ruled island that could threaten its claim.

The Financial Times noted that while the name change effort may have support within the administration—White House Asia adviser Kurt Campbell reportedly backs it—a final decision has not been made and would require Biden to sign an executive order.

Such a move would come amid increasing tensions between the U.S. and China.

Were it to happen, the Global Times went on to say, Chinese mainland fighter jets should fly over Taiwan and place the island's airspace under surveillance by the People's Liberation Army (PLA).

"The name change provides the Chinese mainland with sufficient reason to strengthen our sovereign claim over the island of Taiwan. It is anticipated that the Taiwan army will not dare to stop the PLA fighter jets from flying over the island. If the Taiwan side dares open fire, the Chinese mainland will not hesitate to give 'Taiwan independence' forces a decisive and destructive blow."

This summer, Taiwan similarly opened an office in Lithuania called the "Taiwanese Representative Office," which prompted China to recall its ambassador from the European nation.

The U.S. and Taiwanese governments have not officially commented on the possibility of a name change, but the Chinese embassy in Washington said it "firmly opposes" any official U.S. interaction with Taiwan, according to the Financial Times.

"It must stop any official interaction with Taiwan, refrain from sending any wrong signals to 'Taiwan independence' forces or attempting to challenge China's bottom line, and properly and prudently handle Taiwan-related matters, so as not to seriously damage China-US relations and cross-Strait peace and stability," an embassy spokesperson said, according to the news outlet.

The Global Times on Sunday warned that China must take "resolute actions" to protect its territorial claim over Taiwan, stating the nation should be prepared to "blow [the U.S.] out of the water in the Taiwan Straits."

"The U.S. has been engaging in phrase mongering, hoping that the 'competition' between China and the U.S. will not evolve into a 'conflict.' We have to tell them clearly with our actions that 'competition' with the Chinese mainland on the Taiwan question is bound to turn into a serious conflict, and there is absolutely no room for maneuver," the state-run media outlet wrote.

Newsweek contacted the White House for additional comment but did not hear back in time for publication.

Taiwan flag
In China, a state-run media outlet warned of "severe" military consequences if Washington allows Taiwan to change the name of its American office. Above, the Presidential Office in Taipei on January 13. SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images