Taiwan Is Thrust Into an Unwanted Spotlight

Feb 7, 2018 | 09:00 GMT

With one phone call from Taiwan, U.S. President Donald Trump kick-started a more intense U.S.-Chinese rivalry.

Taiwanese sailors salute the island's flag on the Panshih supply ship after taking part in annual drills at the Tsoying naval base in Kaohsiung on Jan. 31, 2018. Taiwanese troops staged live-fire exercises the day before on Jan. 30 to simulate fending off an attempted invasion. The island's main threat, China, has stepped up pressure on President Tsai Ing-Wen.

(MANDY CHENG/AFP/Getty Images)


  • The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump is preparing to challenge the status quo in cross-strait diplomacy by increasing official contact with Taipei.
  • China will closely watch how far the United States is willing to challenge the "One China" narrative amid current congressional efforts to increase U.S. support for Taiwan.
  • Beijing has resorted to military threats and diplomatic isolation to deter Taipei from seeking greater independence, but those moves have encouraged Taiwan to seek outside assistance to break the siege.

All it took was 10 minutes to reverse years of diminishing importance. When U.S. President-elect Donald Trump ignored established diplomatic tradition and accepted Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen's 10-minute phone call congratulating him on his victory, it upset the balance enough to put the island in East Asia back in the regional spotlight and give the rivalry between China and the United States a kick-start. After Washington singled out China and Russia as central challenges to U.S. security and began considering more aggressive trade measures against Beijing, the United States now appears to be paving the way for a change in the status quo with Taiwan. Twenty years after the last military skirmish across the Taiwan Strait, Taipei seems destined to again acquire supreme geopolitical significance....

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