Leaders from Taiwan will be cleared to visit Washington as of today, barring an unlikely veto from President Trump.
The bill will exacerbate tensions between the US and China, which have spiked after Mr Trump imposed hefty tariffs on imports of steel and aluminium. With Taipei set to host the US for a military conference in May, Taiwan will likely be the source of considerable strain on the Washington-Beijing relationship throughout the year.
In fact, Taiwan could provide an even bigger flashpoint between the US and China than a potential trade war. For Chinese President Xi Jinping, reunification with Taiwan is a policy of vital significance, and force has not been ruled out as a means of achieving unity. As such, any move by the US that legitimises Taipei’s government risks Beijing’s using military force to resolve the issue, escalating the chance of a greater conflict between the US and China.
For Trump, however, the Taiwan issue could be a useful diplomatic tool against China. Indeed, with Trump targeting a $100 billion reduction in the Chinese trade deficit, he could expend Taiwan as leverage in achieving the unlikely deal.
Start your day with an open-source intelligence briefing. Download The Daily Brief app.
Alex is a senior analyst in the Current Developments team with a primary focus on the Americas. He also serves as an editor on The Daily Brief.