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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Saturday, November 25, 2017


A global embarrassment: Trump and his White House has attracted Asia’s fury after getting everything wrong

This time Asia is not displeased with something

Share on Facebook July 11, 2017, Reporter : Big News Network, Reader : 403


WASHINGTON, U.S. - No, this time Asia is not displeased with something U.S. President Donald Trump did - its about what he said… on the social media, for the rest of the world to see. 

In a series of gaffes, Trump and the White House embarrassingly confused names and designations of Asian leaders, not once, or twice - but three times. 

First, Trump wrongly identified the Singapore Prime Minister as the Indonesian President, then his White House addressed Xi Jinping as the president of 'the Republic of China' and then the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was wrongly labelled as the president of Japan.

Trump's social media posts, that have become America’s latest controversy that rages on like a wildfire each time there’s a new update, has once again hit news headlines across the world and this time it brought with it global embarrassment. 

However, this time it wasn’t for his rhetoric against the media or North Korea or Obama-bashing, but for mixing up the identity of a head of state.

On July 8, Trump met Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for bilateral talks on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. 

However, in an Instagram post that is bound to live on for all eternity, the American President wrongly identified Lee as Indonesia President Joko Widodo.

Trump shared a picture of himself with Lee on his Instagram account with the caption reading: "President Trump and the President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo speaking before the start of their bilateral at the G20 summit."

While millions of his followers promptly pointed out the error, leading to the unfortunate caption being corrected, the screenshot of the gaffe has been shared all over the internet, attracting mockery, outrage and shock from across the world. 

Incidentally, Trump, who met Lee for the first time over the weekend, had already met Widodo during the Arab Islamic American Summit in Saudi Arabia in May.

Reporters meanwhile have been itching to find out if it was Trump himself who was responsible for the post, or if a member of his staff posted it on his behalf

Nevertheless, the incident stood out in social media trends for hours and become one of the most widely circulated post in a long time, considering Trump is the second most followed world leader on Instagram after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

However, if that wasn’t embarrassment enough, it was revealed in a separate incident that during the weekend, the White House was caught making a similar blunder. 

In a formal statement issued from the Presidential office, the document mixed up China and Taiwan.

A press release following Trump's meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20, addressed the communist leader as the president "of the Republic of China". 

Taiwan, which is officially known as the Republic of China has Tsai Ing-wen as is its president, while Jinping is the president of the People's Republic of China and Beijing regards Taiwan as a renegade province.

And the chain of errors did not stop there. 

According to a report, the White House labelled Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as the president of Japan in its press read-out, in yet another goof-up.

However, Trump correctly referred to Abe as prime minister in his remarks.

After the slip-ups received the unfortunate and embarrassing reaction, the online version of the statements on China and Japan was edited to reflect correct titles and country names.

Social media meanwhile delivered the memes and comments as expected. 

According to one Instagram user, "Nasty mistake! Such a shame for not getting the names of such prominent people correctly. Fact check please!" while another follower simply pointed out, “Indonesia is not Singapore.”

Chris Lu, a White House cabinet secretary under former President Barack Obama, tweeted, “Ouch. White House just referred to Xi Jinping as leader of Republic of China, which is Taiwan. #AmateurHour.”

On Monday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said it had made a diplomatic representation to the U.S. after the White House statement confused the Republic of China and the People's Republic of China.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a briefing, “As far as I know, China has already made a representation to the U.S. side in this regard. They apologised for this technical error and made the corresponding correction.”

Further, the series of errors led Chinese scholars to claim that the White House staff revealed its incompetence and lack of depth in confusing the name of the country Chinese President Xi Jinping leads.

Experts, however, warned that while Beijing may dismiss the lapse as a technicality, it wasn’t conducive to healthy U.S.-China relations.

According to Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at China Renmin University, it is indicative of how the White House operates under Trump and is not conducive to China-U.S. relations.

Yinhong said, “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. It will only make the Chinese people look down upon the American government for it to make such a low-level mistake.”

Meanwhile, Wang Dong, associate professor at the school of international studies at elite Peking University, said he believes the error was not intentional, but still revealed a lack of capacity in Trump’s foreign policy team while key positions remain unfilled.

He said, “It shows the deficiency in the professionalism on the part of the White House staff in terms of diplomacy. The mistake itself may not affect China-U.S. relations, but the White House should draw a lesson from it to improve its workflow. It’s a politically sensitive mistake that should not have occurred.”


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