Washington has increasingly tested relations with Beijing through engagement at official levels with Taiwan, firstly under the Trump administration and now under President Joe Biden . This has prompted public reminders of the sensitivity of the Taiwan issue, most recently last Friday when a foreign ministry spokesman said the one-China principle was the political foundation of China-United States relations. Therefore it is not surprising that China’s account of the phone call that day between the Chinese and US presidents quoted reaffirmation of the principle by Biden, while the American version did not go into specific issues. Worryingly, however, a report that the Biden administration is seriously considering a move to raise the profile of the self-ruled island’s representative office in the US by renaming it Taiwan instead of Taipei has not been denied. It this were to happen it would do incalculable damage to China-US ties and seriously destabilise cross-strait relations. The political reality is that whoever is in charge of China’s ruling Communist Party cannot lose Taiwan, or tolerate disrespect for its claim to sovereignty. Beijing has already protested at the report, warning the US not to challenge the one-China principle. Beijing warns Washington not to allow Taiwan to rename de facto embassy So if the US sees a name change as a manageable affront that is potentially a very dangerous miscalculation. If any conflict were to break out in the Taiwan Strait it would be devastating for this part of the world, not least because it is hard to see how there could be any real winners, only losers. There has to be a question whether everyone in the US understands the potential consequences. Biden needs to weigh his options very carefully, given that he and President Xi Jinping agreed in their phone call to manage the growing rivalry between their two countries to head off an escalation into conflict. It is far from a question of what is in a name. The proposed renaming is a fundamental change that will affect the delicate balance of bilateral relations over cross-strait security and relations themselves. A similar move by Lithuania last month sparked an outcry in Beijing which disrupted ties. That is not to be compared with the possible consequences of a similar move by Washington.