Asia-Pacific News

Islamic State recognizes Taiwan in new propaganda video

Neelabh Chaturvedi
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The Islamic State has already attracted an angry response from China after it executed a Chinese captive last week. Now the militant group, known as IS or ISIS, could rile Beijing again, this time by recognizing Taiwan as an independent nation.

In its latest propaganda video, ISIS lists the flags of countries it says are part of a global coalition against it. Among these is the Taiwanese flag. All the other flags are of sovereign nations.

Taiwan's Central News Agency linked ISIS's sudden recognition of Taiwan to a statement made by U.S. President Barack Obama at an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Malaysia last week. Obama said that Taiwan was one of the Asia-Pacific countries in a coalition against ISIS.

The Hong Kong Standard reported that SWAT teams were patrolling the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on Thursday after video prompted the Taiwanese government to step up security measures. Meanwhile, President Ma Ying-jeou urged the public not to panic.

Here is a screenshot from the video, which was posted on Wednesday.

China views Taiwan as a renegade province that may be reclaimed by force if necessary. The United Nations also recognizes the People's Republic of China as the only lawful representative of China and has rejected calls in the past to make Taiwan a member.

The list of countries that have diplomatic relations with Taiwan is also pitifully small.

Chinese President Xi Jinping
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The video comes just weeks after Ma met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Singapore, for what were the first talks between leaders of the neighboring countries in more than six decades.

The historic event was seen as a breakthrough for a relationship that has been strained since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949 when the Nationalist Party (KMT) was forced by Communist Party of China to retreat to Taiwan. No armistice or peace treaty has ever been signed to mark the end of the conflict.

Indeed, the issue of sovereignty is so fraught that at the Singapore meeting neither leader referred to the other as "president," addressing each other as "Mr" instead. They also split the dinner bill, according to reports.