U.S. President Trump 16 March signed Taiwan Travel Act on 16 March, formally encouraging all levels of officials of both govts to visit each other; only second piece of U.S. legislation passed on Taiwan since they severed formal diplomatic relations in 1972, increasing tensions with Beijing. China expressed strong dissatisfaction, said law violates “One-China” policy and sends “seriously wrong signal”. China’s President Xi struck assertive tone on Taiwan in address to National Peoples’ Congress 20 March, warning that any efforts to divide China would be doomed and separatism would meet the “punishment of history”; speech seen as warning to U.S. and to Taiwan’s independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party; and as Xi’s most public expression yet of long-held ambition to reunite Taiwan and mainland. China’s Taiwan Affairs Office 28 Feb unveiled slate of 31 measures designed to deepen economic and social integration with Taiwan; Taiwan’s Premier William Lai 6 March said measures were intended to cause brain drain and increase dependence. Two former presidents of Taiwan, Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian, 28 Feb backed campaign for island to hold referendum on independence in 2019.
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.