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August 24, 2017

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LATEST: China 'has gotten an apology' after the White House confused the PRC and ROC

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said Monday the U.S. had apologized for a statement from the White House that confused the Republic of China and the People's Republic of China.

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China had made diplomatic representation to the U.S. and had asked for an explanation, the Associated Press reports.

"As far as I know, China has already made a representation to the U.S. side in this regard," Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a briefing, according to Sputnik News.

"They apologized for this technical error and made the corresponding correction," he added.

The White House made the faux pas on Saturday.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Hamburg, with the White House issuing a transcript of Trump's comments after they appeared together.

But the document sent to reporters referred to Xi as president of the "Republic of China," which refers to Taiwan, while China is officially known as the "People's Republic of China."

There's also been grumbling from Chinese scholars about the mix-up. Fox News quoted Renmin University professor Shi Yinhong as saying that the mistake was indicative of how the White House was being run under Trump that it was not conducive to Chinese-U.S. relations.

"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," Shi was quoted as saying. "It will only make the Chinese people look down upon the American government for it to make such a low-level mistake."

The error comes as the friendship between Trump and Xi appears to have ended.

Trump first ruffled feathers in Beijing after his November election victory, when the president-elect accepted a congratulatory phone call from President Tsai Ing-wen, despite the U.S. having broken off relations with the island in 1979.

Recently, after first seeming to get on well with Xi, Trump has been openly critical of Beijing's efforts to reign in North Korea's nuclear program, and the two powers have clashed over the South China Sea, which is claimed by China as well as several other countries.

While Xi said after his Saturday meeting with Trump that Beijing would "like to work with the U.S.," he last week described the relationship as afflicted by "negative factors."

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