The US Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, as part of a planned tour of US-friendly nations in Asia, landed in Taiwan on Tuesday. The visit of a high-ranking US legislator in 25 years has sent worrying chills around the world as the Foreign Ministry of the People’s Republic of China, had earlier threatened military action against the US Speaker and other officials if they dared visit the island of Taiwan, which sits 100 miles southeast of China.

US relationship with Taiwan 

About 43 years ago, the US Congress and then President Jimmy Carter signed the Taiwan Relations Act, an important pillar that establishes the US foreign policy on the continent of Asia. The Taiwan Relations Act binds both countries, United States and Taiwan, by a bond of shared interests (economic and political) and values (democracy, human rights, etc.). 

The United State of America also made a vow “to consider any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means … a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area and of grave concern to the United States.”

China and Taiwan’s Disagreement 
China claimed to have had full authority over Taiwan in the 17th century when the Qing Dynasty ruled. Chinese historical sources say that the Asian powerhouse lost Taiwan to Japan in the Sino-Japanese war but reclaimed it in 1945 after Japan lost World War Two. 

In 1949, another war broke out in China, Chiang Kai-shek fled to Taiwan and ruled the island for several decades after losing the civil war to the communist party, Mao Zedong. On the premise of this history, China views Taiwan as a breakaway province that they would inevitably reclaim. 

However, Taiwan points to history and regards itself as an independent nation with its own guiding constitution and elected leaders. The country also claims no tie to China in both the revolutionary wars of 1911 and 1949. 

China has been making moves to reiterate its intention to reclaim Taiwan someday. In 2021, China sent numerous military aircraft into Taiwan’s Air Defense Zone. 

What to watch 
Taiwan operates a robust economy which interests the rest of the world. The Taiwanese company, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) supplies over 50% of the global market for computer chips used in making game consoles, laptops, phones, wrist watches and other electronics. 

  • A Chinese invasion of Taiwan could give the Asian powerhouse control over one of the world’s most important industries. 
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