Defence ministry 3 Dec confirmed Chinese naval vessels had stepped up patrols in western part of Taiwan Strait in 2018, responding to report by Taipei-based China Times 2 Dec that “irregular” patrols have become “routine”. Defence ministry reported several Chinese military aircraft and vessels passed near island’s southern coast 18 Dec. European Parliament 12 Dec adopted resolution reiterating support for “Taiwan’s meaningful participation in international organisations”. U.S. Senate 19 Dec approved House amendments to 2018 Asia Reassurance Initiative Act, which includes support for regular U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and enhanced bilateral economic, political and security relations. Taiwan signed new agreements to boost economic cooperation with Philippines 29 Nov, Japan 30 Nov and India 18 Dec.
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.