The U.S. Department of Defense has included Taiwan on a list of “countries” to work with for its missions around the world in its recently released “Indo-Pacific Strategy Report.” This is an apparent about-face in Washington’s “One-China” policy to recognize Taiwan as an independent country, and is seen as the Trump administration’s move to step up pressure on China by making use of the country’s diplomatically sensitive issue.
Since it normalized bilateral ties with China in 1979, the United States has maintained a “One-China” principle, not acknowledging Taiwan as a country. Therefore, involving Taiwan in a list of “countries” in the government’s official report practically aimed at China is an unexpected move.
Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post (SCMP) said Friday that the report’s wording is “an apparent break with long-standing U.S. adherence to a “One-China” principle” and the move is “the latest in a series of provocative moves that appear aimed at confronting China.” It also added that “’Analysts said the use of ‘countries’ is the latest salvo by the Trump administration as the U.S. and China face off over trade, security, education, visas, technology, and competing visions of ‘civilization.’”
Earlier, Reuters reported that the U.S. defense department is pursuing the sale of more than two billion dollars’ worth of weapons including anti-tank to Taiwan. This indicates the Trump administration’s intention to bring Taiwan to a list of regional players, which will join the U.S.’ strategy to put pressure on China, by restoring bilateral ties and strengthening cooperation as well as providing military support. The United States’ reversal in its policy is expected to spark anger from Beijing amid intensifying tensions over trade.