Taiwan–United States relations

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Taiwan–United States relations
Map indicating locations of Taiwan and USA


United States

Taiwan and the United States maintain unofficial relations from 1979. The relations between the government of the Republic of China on Taiwan and the federal government of the United States terminated due to the recognition of Beijing. Now, the United States regulates the relation with the 'people on Taiwan' by Taiwan Relations Act.


United States representative office in Taipei, Taiwan
Taiwan representative office in Washington, D.C., United States


Taiwanese aborigines attacked shipwrecked foreigners. During the Rover incident they killed an entire crew of American sailors. They subsequently skirmished against and defeated a retaliatory expedition by the American military and killed another American during the battle.


In October 1945, the representatives of Chiang Kai-shek were sent to Taiwan to accept the surrender of Japanese troops. However, during the period of the 1940s, there was no recognition by the United States Government that Taiwan had ever been incorporated into Chinese national territory.[1] However, Chiang was suspicious of the American motives.[2]



In the height of Sino-Soviet Split, and the start of reform and opening of People's Republic of China, that strategically the United States switched diplomatic recognition from the Republic of China(ROC) to the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1979 to counter the political influences and military threats from Soviet Union. US Embassy in Taipei was 'migrated' to Beijing and Taiwanese Embassy in the US was closed. Following the termination of diplomatic relations, the United States terminated its Mutual Defense Treaty with Taiwan as of January 1, 1980.

On April 10, 1979, U.S. President Jimmy Carter signed into law the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), which created domestic legal authority for the conduct of unofficial relations with Taiwan. U.S. commercial, cultural, and other interaction with the people on Taiwan is facilitated through the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), a private nonprofit corporation. The Institute has its headquarters in the Washington, DC area and has offices in Taipei and Kaohsiung. It is authorized to issue visas, accept passport applications, and provide assistance to U.S. citizens in Taiwan. A counterpart organization, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States (TECRO), has been established by the ROC. It has its headquarters in Taipei, the representative branch office in Washington, DC, and 11 other Taipei Economic and Cultural Offices (TECO) in the continental U.S. and Guam. The Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) continues to provide the legal basis for the unofficial relationship between the U.S. and Taiwan, and enshrines the U.S. commitment to assisting Taiwan maintain its defensive capability.

After de-recognition, the U.S. still maintain unofficial diplomatic relations with ROC through Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office; the current head of TECRO in Washington, D.C. is King Pu-tsung. The American Institute in Taiwan, a non-profit institute headquarters in the US soil under the laws of the District of Columbia in Arlington County, Virginia and serves as the semi-official, working-level US representation and AIT has branch offices in Taipei and Kaohsiung. The Chairman of AIT is Raymond Burghardt. Christopher J. Marut was appointed to be the new AIT Taipei Office Director in August 2012.[3][4] With the absence of diplomatic recognition, in the present state, US-ROC relations are formally guided by the service of enactment of Taiwan Relations Act by US Congress for the continuation of US-ROC relations after 1979. In 2013, Taiwan Policy Act of 2013 was raised and passed in House Committee on Foreign Affairs by the US Congress to update the condition of US-Taiwan relations. [5][6]

U.S. commercial ties with Taiwan have been maintained and have expanded since 1979. Taiwan continues to enjoy Export-Import Bank financing, Overseas Private Investment Corporation guarantees, normal trade relations (NTR) status, and ready access to U.S. markets. In recent years, AIT commercial dealings with Taiwan have focused on expanding market access for American goods and services. AIT has been engaged in a series of trade discussions, which have focused on protection of intellectual property rights and market access for U.S. goods and services.

Important Issues[edit]

United States did not agree to resolve the Taiwan Question by military means other than peaceful means from People's Republic of China (and so People's Republic of China plans One Country Two Systems as the premise of peaceful solution to Taiwan Question, then, experiments such political system to Hong Kong in 1997 and Macau in 1999. Republic of China responded with special state-to-state relations to People's Republic of China by President Lee Teng-hui in 1999 [7] and the first ever Direct Election of the Presidency of Republic of China in 1996 and President Lee Teng-hui's 1995 visit to Cornell University of the United States that incurred the Third Taiwan Strait Crisis and the US intervention by deploying two aircraft carrier battlegroups near Taiwan Strait amid missile tests by People's Liberation Army in the nearby coastal provinces of People's Republic of China. President Bill Clinton later announced the Three No's Policy of US on Taiwan to détente the escalating tension across the Taiwan Strait and to reassure during President Jiang Zemin's State Visit to United States in 1997 (and affirmed this policy in 1998 during President Clinton's State Visit to People's Republic of China to the press in a library in Shanghai) that United States does not support Taiwan independence, United States does not support two Chinas or one China and one Taiwan, and United States does not support Taiwan's entry into the United Nations [7] ).

The United States position on Taiwan is reflected in the Three Communiqués and the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA). The U.S. insists on the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait differences and encourages dialogue to help advance such an outcome. The U.S. does not support Taiwan independence. U.S. President George W. Bush stated on December 9, 2003 that the United States is opposed to any attempt by either side to unilaterally alter the status quo in the Taiwan Strait. While the United States welcomes recent exchanges that enhance channels of communication between leaders in Beijing and Taipei, the United States urges Beijing and Taipei to further advance cross-Strait relations, including direct discussions between the authorities in Beijing and elected leaders in Taipei.

The United States has continued the sale of appropriate defensive military equipment to Taiwan in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act, which provides for such sales and which declares that peace and stability in the area are in U.S. interests. Sales of defensive military equipment are also consistent with the 1982 U.S.-P.R.C. Joint Communiqué.

Maintaining diplomatic relations with the PRC has been recognized to be in the long-term interest of the United States by seven consecutive administrations; however, maintaining strong, unofficial relations with Taiwan is also a major U.S. goal, in line with its desire to further peace and stability in Asia. In keeping with its China policy, the U.S. does not support de jure Taiwan independence, but it does support Taiwan's membership in appropriate international organizations, such as the World Trade Organization, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, and the Asian Development Bank, where statehood is not a requirement for membership. In addition, the U.S. supports appropriate opportunities for Taiwan's voice to be heard in organizations where its membership is not possible.

On 24 August 2010, the United States State Department announced a change to commercial sales of military equipment in place of the previous high provide Foreign Military Sales in the hope of avoiding political implications.[8] However pressure from the PRC has continued and it seems unlikely that Taiwan will be provided with advanced submarines or jet fighters.[9]

Taiwan has indicated that it is willing to host national missile defense radars to be tied into the American system, but is unwilling to pay for any further cost overruns in the systems.[10]

On 19 June 2013, ROC Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed gratitude for a US Congress's bill in support of Taiwan's bid to participate in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).[11] On July 12, 2013, US President Barack Obama signed into law H.R. 1151, codifying the US government’s full support for Taiwan’s participation in the ICAO as a non-sovereign entity.[12]

See also[edit]


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Department of State (Background Notes).

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