Taiwan, an island nation off the coast of China, is often at the center of opposing interests of the United States. It serves as a successful template for a free democratic country in East Asia, thus gaining favorable Amiercan ties. However, China refuses to recognize Taiwan as an independent country. As a result, the United States’ important diplomatic relations and trade agreements with China frequently stall over positions on Taiwan.
The United States maintained diplomatic relations with Taiwan until the 1970s, when Washington began to shift its focus toward greater cooperation with the PRC. In 1979, the US ended its recognition of Taiwan as “China” in favor of the government on the communist mainland.
Recent controversies include the US Defense Department’s sending of ballistic missile parts to Taiwan by mistake, a controversial arms deal between the US and Taiwan, a US born Caucasian running for a Taiwanese parliament seat, and accusations that “neocons” in the Bush administration risked nuclear war with China to preserve Taiwan’s status as an anti-communist bastion in the region.
Lay of the Land: Taiwan is an island nation off the coast of China. It occupies an area of 36,189 square miles. The capital, Taipei, has a population of 2.6 million, and is located near the island’s northern coast. Taiwan’s terrain is largely mountainous, and its climate is subtropical.
: Min Nan Chinese 65.8%, Mandarin Chinese (official) 18.6%, Hakka Chinese 10.4%, Amis 0.6%, Paiwan 0.3%. There are 22 living languages in Taiwan.
Taiwan was originally settled by immigrants from Austronesia and southern Asia nearly 15,000 years ago. Additional migration, from the Chinese mainland, began in 500 AD.
(by Peter Enav, Associated Press)
The lack of formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan has done nothing to diminish trade with the United States. From 2004 to 2008, US imports from Taiwan steadily grew, from $34.6 billion to $36.3 billion. Leading the way were semiconductors, moving up from $3.7 billion to $4.5 billion; telecommunications equipment, rising from $1.4 billion to $2.8 billion; clocks, portable typewriters, and other household goods, increasing from $1.1 billion to $2.5 billion; iron and steel, rising from $1.3 billion to $1.6 billion; and steel mill products (semi-finished), increasing from $625.7 million to $818.4 million;
(by John J. Tkacik, Jr. and Daniella Markheim, Heritage Foundation)
Missile Deal Brings Controversy with China
Human rights advocates have complained that Taiwanese law fails to provide adequate protection for people accused of crimes, as suspects are not entitled to legal representation during questioning. Legal counsel is allowed, but not required, to be present at police interrogations.
Taiwan does not maintain an embassy in the US. The Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) unofficially manages commercial and cultural relations with the US.