President Tsai 4 April promised “forceful expulsion” of Chinese jets from Taiwanese airspace after two Chinese J-11 fighter jets crossed median line of Taiwan Strait 31 March, reportedly China’s first breach of traditionally-agreed maritime border since 1999; Chinese govt 10 April defended flights as routine and dismissed Tsai’s comments. Beijing 15 April said Chinese warships, bombers and reconnaissance aircraft conducted day of drills around Taiwan; Tsai denounced manoeuvres as “coercion”. Taiwanese Defence Ministry 15 April announced ten-year budget, rising annually to over $13bn; U.S. State Department same day announced renewal of training of Taiwanese F-16 pilots and maintenance support ahead of July decision on Taiwan’s request to buy 66 F-16V fighter. American Institute in Taiwan 3 April announced U.S. Marines will guard Institute’s new compound in Taipei, due to be opened May. Tsai and U.S. officials 10 April commemorated 40th anniversary of Taiwan Relations Act in ceremony in Taipei. French warship passed through Taiwan Strait 6 April; China 25 April said it had lodged “stern representations” for “illegal” passage. U.S. 28 April sailed two warships through Taiwan strait, prompting China to express concern.
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.