What is the relationship between Taiwan and China, and how has tension builded up recently, especially with the United States involved? By Adam Frommer

Taiwan Background Information

In 1949, the Republic of China lead by Chiang Kai-shek was overthrown by Mao Zedong and the Communists, fleeing to an island called Taiwan off of the coast of China. The United nations still acknowledged the Republic of China (living in Taiwan) as "China's rightful movement," but in 1971 the stance changed and it recognized the People’s Republic of China as the true government of China. Since the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China were formed, each have claimed to be the legitimate China, and have not recognized each other. In 1979 America created the one China principle saying that only one China existed, and Taiwan was a part of China. This is now being questioned by the President, and the relationship between the two governments is unsteady.


"The Government of the United States of America acknowledges the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China."


Initial Recent Unrest Between Taiwan and China

In early December, Mr. Trump had made a remark that "the United States did not necessarily have to stick to its long-standing position that Taiwan is part of "one China", which made China express "serious concerns" as to what the future may hold. China had already been suspicious of Taiwan and its Progressive Democratic Party which has pushed for formal independence from China. Just over a month ago, an already sensitive issue for China had become something to worry about.


China Responds By Intimidating Taiwan

According to the president of Taiwan, China has began to make "military and economic threats" to intimidate the Republic of China. ''Step by step, Beijing is going back to the old path of dividing, coercing and even threatening and intimidating Taiwan,'' she said. China recently sent its sole aircraft carrier into the Taiwan straight, signaling China's growing naval strength. "It's a show of force, and I think it is intended in part to intimidate, and that's worrisome from Taiwan's point of view because we don't know how much more they are going to ratchet up these pressures and tensions," said Bonnie S. Glaser. Taiwan responded by bringing together F-16 fighter jets and a P-3C anti-submarine plane, the third time in three days that Taiwan had responded with its air force to China. "China was using the aircraft carrier to send a symbolic warning to both Taiwan and the incoming Trump administration," said Ni Lexiong, a naval affairs researcher at the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law.

"It's all connected, Since Trump won the election, his words and actions have touched China's bottom line. I think this was directed at America and the Taiwanese authorities. The aircraft carrier was on training exercises after all, but on the other hand, choosing this route to return was a response to their provocations."

-Ni Lexiong

Chinese troops in Training


Ms. Tsai, the president of Taiwan says that they will restrain, and "will not bow to pressure, and we will of course not revert to the old path of confrontation,'' she said. Taiwan will not come back with weapons they say, and will keep out of any sort of fighting. Taiwan wants to remain in peace with China, but that may not be possible due to the fact that they are the ones disrupting the peace at this point by pushing for independence. China is arguably only coming back in reaction and defence to Taiwan's new movement.

How is the Unrest and Uncertainty a Legacy of the Ancient World?

Legalism is at the heart of the issue because just like Han Fe would do, China is using force and their power to stop the voices of Taiwan. They do not want them to become a separate country, so are bringing out weapons and arms to scare them about a possible war. China is making Taiwan fear them, forcing the Republic of China to think about every action and its consequences.


The Issue of Taiwan and China is important because not only does it connect and apply to what we learned about the ancient Chinese religions and culture, but it is also such a prominent issue in today's world. There is in addition no clear-cut right and wrong, because each side believes what they believe and rightfully so.


1) Are there any other moments since 1949 where Taiwan has wanted formal independence? Was it a similar situation?

2) Has modern-day China ever participated in any wars, and is it likely that there will be fighting because of this issue?

3) How is the Taiwan-China relationship difference now than it used to be?

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