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May 26, 2017

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Demonstrators burn United States flag in Kaohsiung

Dozens of protesters in Taiwan yesterday burned and trampled the Stars and Stripes outside the island's U.S. mission, reports said, after a senior White House official said Taiwan was not a state.

A crowd chanting slogans set fire to the U.S. flag outside the mission in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan and unfurled protest banners, including one that read, "Oppose U.S. bullying of Taiwan," television pictures showed.

Police then moved in to douse the flames but there were no reports of arrests or injuries from the incident.

"We have our president and territory and we pay taxes to the government. Without doubt, Taiwan is a country, not what the United States said — that Taiwan is not a country," an unnamed protester told reporters.

The protest came after White House official Dennis Wilder said last week that Taiwan was not a state and so could not become a member of the United Nations.

The island's ruling Democratic Progressive Party wants to hold a referendum on U.N. membership next year. The party leans towards independence for the island from China, which claims Taiwan.

Wilder said the proposed referendum had unnecessarily increased regional tension.

"Membership in the United Nations requires statehood. Taiwan, or the Republic of China, is not at this point a state in the international community," Wilder said.

The U.N. General Assembly will discuss Taiwan's membership application later this month. Its past efforts to rejoin have been repeatedly blocked by Beijing.

The island, under its official name the Republic of China, lost its U.N. seat to China in 1971.

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