To understand the seriousness of the situation, we must make a short historical excursion. After Mao Zedong’s Communist Party seized power on the Chinese mainland in 1949, exiled Chinese nationalists led by General Chiang Kai-shek established an enclave on the island of Taiwan.
In opposition to his opponents in Beijing, Chiang Kai-shek declared the government of Taiwan, still officially called the Republic of China, to be the sole legal government of all of China. Much of the West, including the United States, initially accepted this thesis. During the Cold War, the Taiwanese government in Taipei became a key ally of the United States and took China’s seat on the UN Security Council.
However, everything changed in 1979, when the US shifted its recognition from Taipei to Beijing after years of diplomatic efforts that began with the work of Henry Kissinger and culminated in the historic visit of US President Richard Nixon to China in 1972. wanu an attitude of “strategic ambiguity” which he applies to this day.
Washington formally recognizes Beijing’s claims that Taiwan is part of it under the “one China” theory. But although it officially recognizes only the People’s Republic of China (i.e. communist Beijing), Washington maintains close ties with Taiwan and has become the country’s de facto security guarantor – even though it does not formally declare any commitments to its eventual defense precisely within the framework of strategic ambiguity.
The United States is “invested” in maintaining the status quo – Washington would oppose both Taiwan’s declaration of independence and a Chinese attack on the island.