Changing Relations Between China, Taiwan, and the U.S.

Narration: China’s Kuomintang (KMT) government fled to Taiwan in 1949 after the Chinese Communist Party took control of the mainland. The UN and Western countries recognized the KMT as China’s legitimate government until the 1970s. In 1972, President Nixon visited China which eventually led to the U.S. severing diplomatic ties with Taiwan and normalizing relations with Beijing in 1979.

Narration: Despite the change, the U.S. has always been one of Taiwan’s biggest supporters. In 1979, the Taiwan Relations Act, drafted by the U.S. Congress, requires the United States “to provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character” and “to maintain the capacity of the United States to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of the people on Taiwan.” On the other hand, the act does not guarantee the U.S. will intervene militarily if the PRC attacks or invades Taiwan. In 1982, President Reagan agreed to the Six Assurances, which ensured continued U.S. support to Taiwan.

Narration: In February, President Trump signed the Taiwan Travel Act. It allows high-level Taiwan officials to visit the United States and vice versa. Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen visited the U.S. twice in August, angering China’s communist government.

Narration: As U.S.-Taiwan ties strengthen, other countries are embracing Beijing. Since 2017, Panama, the Dominican Republic, and El Salvador have cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan. Only 17 countries currently recognize Taiwan diplomatically.

Narration: President Trump signed the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act in August. The NDAA had several pro-Taiwan elements, supporting joint military exercises and support.

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