Earlier this week, it was reported that the U.S. is seriously pursuing a deepened security and economic partnership with Australia, Japan, and India in order to counter Beijing’s influence in the Asia-Pacific, or “Indo-Pacific,” region.
It’s increasingly clear that part of the new U.S. strategy involves reinforcing, if not going so far as to officially deepen, U.S.-Taiwan relations. Here are the signs:
- A 19-member congressional delegation is visiting Taiwan from the U.S. to express its “love for Taipei,” the Taipei Times reports. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen met with the delegation and thanked the Americans “for all they have done for Taiwan,” according to Taiwan News.
- Senator James Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma and the second-ranking member of his party on the Senate Armed Forces Committee, led the delegation. The New York Times received (paywall) a statement from the senator:
“With China becoming more aggressive and intent on expanding its influence globally, the United States-Taiwan security relationship is now more important than ever… By ensuring they have the ability to defend themselves, Taiwan will continue to be an important part of promoting regional stability.”
- In January, the House of Representatives in the U.S. passed a bill called the “Taiwan Travel Act,” which if it were to become law would “pave the way for high-level Taiwanese officials to visit the United States and meet U.S. officials, including those from the state and defense departments,” the South China Morning Post reports.
- An arms sale forum between the U.S. and Taiwan is set to be held in Taiwan, rather than America, for the first time this May, according to the SCMP. Initially, the forum had been identified as the US-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference, which is held annually in the U.S., but organizers clarified that this forum is separate and not equivalent.
- The American Institute in Taiwan, an organization that coordinates contact between U.S. and Taiwan government representatives, is set to upgrade its facilities in Taipei in June. The New York Times comments that “the unanswered question is how senior an American official might attend” the groundbreaking.
Other new tests for the Taiwan-mainland China relationship:
- Taiwanese officials are on high alert about a potential breakthrough in Vatican-Beijing relations, which would sideline Taipei.
- Activists are furious about the wife of Lee Ming-che 李明哲 being unable to visit him while he is jailed in China, allegedly in part for posts he made on Facebook.
- China’s reunification dream will remain out of reach as long as Taiwanese feel they don’t belong, says Wang Chi 王冀, president of the U.S.-China Policy Foundation.