U.S. 12 June unveiled its recently completed American Institute in Taiwan main office in Taipei with low-key ceremony that indicated support for self-governing island while avoiding greater frictions with China; U.S. 27 June confirmed new representative to Taiwan. Speaking to AFP news agency 25 June, Taiwan’s President Tsai said international community should “constrain” China to protect democracy, prompting angry response from Beijing. Taiwan held large-scale annual military drills early June, while Chinese warships held daily combat drills starting 17 June in waters near Taiwan.
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.