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The US Visits Taiwan Again – What Impact Will It Make? – Lesson

taiwan map island

The island of Taiwan, located of the east coast of China (Photo by Gallo Images / Orbital Horizon/Copernicus Sentinel Data 2019)

American officials visit Taiwan, causing controversy in Asia.

US officials have recently been making trips to the Asian island of Taiwan. Three visits have happened recently: The first occurred in early August when Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi flew there. A group of lawmakers then followed Pelosi’s example and made a second visit. Finally, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb has traveled to the region. Why has it suddenly become popular for American officials to fly all the way to Taiwan?

Taiwan is an island located off the east coast of China. It is a controversial place, because there is disagreement over who owns it. Taiwan claims to be an independent country. However, China says Taiwan is part of its territory. Right now, the island governs itself – it makes its own laws, has its own constitution, and the people elect their own president – but the Chinese government has been getting more active in telling the world that the island actually belongs to them.

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Taipei (Photo by Ceng Shou Yi/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

While Taiwan is a democracy like the United States, China is a communist country with no elections. If China were to take over Taiwan, the island would probably lose its democratic way of life. For this reason, a lot of American officials support Taiwan’s independence.

The US Shows Support for Taiwan

When Nancy Pelosi announced she might visit Taiwan, it caused a big fuss. China told America not to let Pelosi go, but that did not stop her. She met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and expressed support for democracy on the island.

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Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Congress members who traveled to Taiwan (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

A five-member US congressional group then flew to the island’s capital city, Taipei, for the same reason Pelosi did 12 days earlier: to reassure the Taiwanese government that the US supports their efforts to be independent. The delegation was led by Senator Ed Markey and included Representatives John Garamendi, Alan Lowenthal, Don Beyer, and Amata Coleman Radewagen, a delegate to the House of Representatives from American Samoa.

Senator Markey’s spokesperson stated that the Congress members met with President Tsai and other officials. They “discussed ways to increase Taiwan’s participation in the international community,” as well as keeping peace in the area and “deepening economic ties” between the two countries. Taiwan makes a lot of semiconductors (computer chips), and the US is a big customer.

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Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb was the next visitor, recently arriving on the island for a four-day visit. He said his goal was to discuss business in the area, especially when it comes to semiconductors. Taiwan has even started calling the semiconductors “democracy chips” to promote its trade with the United States.

The China-Taiwan Debate

Taiwan’s government has been independent of China since 1949. President Tsai has no intentions of re-joining the Chinese government. On the other hand, China says it wants the island to reunite with the mainland rather than continue acting as an independent country. It has threatened to use force if Taiwan does not comply.

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China does combat exercises and training in the waters and airspace around the Taiwan Island. (Photo by Lin Jian/Xinhua via Getty Images)

China was very unhappy about Pelosi’s visit and launched military exercises around the island in response. Since then, the situation has not improved. Liu Pengyu, the spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in the US, said on Twitter that “China firmly opposes any kind of official ties” between Taiwan and the United States. He said the visit from American Congress members “proves that the US does not want to see stability across the Taiwan Straits” and has stirred up “confrontation between the two sides.”

The tense situation has left Taiwanese officials open to help from the US. Some worry that China could attack the island and try to take it over – this could lead to a war. The United States has vowed to back Taiwan, but it is still unclear whether the US would join Taiwan in war if the island were attacked by China.