In CNN interview 19 Feb, President Tsai warned of growing military threat posed by China and confirmed plans to run for second term in 2020 general elections; came after her poll ratings improved in wake of Beijing’s strong language on reunification early Jan. Following Tsai’s calls in Jan to develop Taiwan’s indigenous defence industry, Taiwan News 11 Feb reported govt requests for budgetary approval on new military procurement including domestically produced drones and missile-equipped ships to support asymmetric warfare strategy against a larger force. Discussing 40th anniversary of U.S. Taiwan Relations Act, Brent Christensen, Director of American Institute in Taiwan and most senior U.S. diplomat in Taipei, 30 Jan said he expected U.S.-Taiwan relations to continue to deepen, including in security cooperation. In statement before Senate Armed Services Committee 12 Feb, Indo-Pacific Commander Admiral Philip Davidson recommended supporting and improving interoperability with Taiwan’s military, alongside strengthening partnerships with other regional allies. U.S. conducted its second freedom of navigation operation through Taiwan Strait in two months 25-26 Feb, prompting Chinese protest.
After drifting toward crisis for much of 2004, the outlook for stability across the Taiwan Strait has improved.
Each side’s most preferred solution for resolving the continuing Taiwan Strait issue – in the case of Taipei, widely recognised de jure independence; and in the case of Beijing, reunification of China on the same ‘one country, two systems’ basis as Hong Kong – are both non-starters.
Apparently irreconcilable positions on the ‘one China’ principle have emerged between China and Taiwan over the last decade, with Taiwan for some time now asserting not only that it is a separate political entity but an independent sovereign country.
China's underlying position on its cross-Strait relations, however strong its current commitment to peaceful diplomacy, is that Taiwan must make sustained, visible progress toward a peaceful settlement or risk a resort to armed hostilities.
In the last decade, Taiwan has moved slowly but surely away from its commitment to the idea of ‘one China’, the proposition, long agreed on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, that Taiwan and the mainland are parts of one country.