Twitter Disputes Taiwan's Existence, Jokes Tsai Ing-wen's Spokesperson

A spokesperson for President Tsai Ing-wen joined the "This claim is disputed" trend on social media Wednesday, joking that Twitter questioned the existence of Taiwan.

Kolas Yotaka, who regularly disputes China's claim over Taiwan on Twitter, confused a few of her 12,000 followers when she posted: "Taiwan: *exists*," before adding a tag reading "This claim is disputed."

The "disputed" meme pokes fun at the social media platform's recent heavy use of disclaimers or explainers on President Donald Trump's timeline. Since the election on November 3, his tweets have been regularly flagged as disputed or carrying inaccurate claims.

Trump has yet to concede to President-elect Joe Biden and, supported by his base, continues to claim election fraud despite a lack of evidence. Twitter has flagged more than 120 of his tweets or retweets since Election Day.

Kolas' take on the meme makes light of the awkward position her country is in—and the 46-year-old is among the few officials who can articulate the island's views to a wider audience in English. Taiwan is officially known as the Republic of China and is still claimed by Beijing as a rebellious breakaway province.

As a result of growing Chinese influence over the past decade, Taiwan is recognized by only 14 of the 193 United Nations member states.

Its government remains excluded from international bodies such as the UN and World Health Organization, while it is forced to compete under the banner of "Chinese Taipei" in the Olympics and other major sporting events.

The Chinese leadership has never ruled out the use of military force in order to reunify Taiwan and its 23 million inhabitants.

Records from Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense show that Beijing has dramatically escalated warplane sorties near the island since September, with incursions into its air defense identification zone now an almost daily occurrence.

Military tensions in the Taiwan Strait have only increased since Tsai was voted into office in 2016. Her administration has received unprecedented support from President Trump, who signed into law the 2018 Taiwan Travel Act.

The Trump administration has also made frequent use of the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, selling Taipei defensive weapons worth billions of dollars.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen
President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan. Her spokesperson Kolas Yokata has joined the "This claim is disputed" trend on Twitter. Sam Yeh/Getty Images