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Paige Fusco

Biden’s “new” Taiwan policy: strategic clarity or confusion?

China on Monday blasted the US for egging on Taiwan “separatists” after President Joe Biden vowed that the US would defend the self-ruled island from a Chinese invasion. Okay, nothing new here, right? Not exactly.

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Gabriella Turrisi

The Graphic Truth: As US arms Taiwan, China arms itself

The White House announced on Friday that it plans to sell Taiwan $1.1 billion worth of new weapons, its biggest arms sale to the self-governing island since President Joe Biden took office. It's also the first since China upended the status quo in the Taiwan Strait in response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's uber-controversial trip to Taipei.

For decades, the US has sold weapons to Taiwan over China's strong objections. While Beijing claims the island is part of the People's Republic of China, Washington does not take a position on the question of Taiwan's sovereignty, holding that the issue should be resolved peacefully by both sides — while supporting Taiwan's self-defense capabilities. But tensions between Washington and Beijing over Taiwan have been rising as the US-China relationship deteriorates more broadly.

If China were to someday invade Taiwan — which it regards as a renegade province that sooner or later will be brought under mainland control — would the US come to the island's defense? A 1979 law provides "strategic ambiguity" on whether America would have to do so. In the meantime, US arms sales have bolstered Taiwan's defense deterrent while China's military budget has skyrocketed.

We take a look at US military sales to Taiwan compared with China's own defense spending since 1990.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan meets with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in Lviv, Ukraine.

Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Turkish Presidential Press Office via Reuters

What We're Watching: Erdogan's diplomacy, carnage at Kabul mosque, US-Taiwan trade talks

Erdogan is everywhere

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been very busy this week. On Thursday, he flew to Lviv to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and UN Secretary-General António Guterres, the Turkish president’s first visit to Ukraine since Russia’s war began six months ago. Erdogan, who has tried to position himself as an elder statesman and mediator between Kyiv and Moscow, vowed to help rebuild Ukrainian infrastructure just weeks after brokering a deal with Russia to resume Ukrainian grain exports from Black Sea ports amid a global food crisis. The trio also discussed efforts to secure a contested nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine. This comes a week after Erdogan held a face-to-face with Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia, where they pledged to boost energy cooperation. What’s more, Erdogan’s Ukraine trip came just one day after Ankara announced it was restoring full diplomatic ties with Israel. Indeed, Erdogan is looking to get wins wherever he can as he tries to divert attention from Ankara’s deepening economic woes. In a move that made many economists shudder, Turkey’s central bank on Thursday further slashed interest rates to 13% despite the fact that inflation has topped a whopping 80%. Loosening monetary policy to boost growth has long been Erdogan’s shtick, but as a cost of living crisis continues to hurt Turks, his ruling party is falling in the polls less than a year out from elections.

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A newspaper front page reporting about Nancy Pelosi's Taiwan visit is pictured in Taipei.

REUTERS/Ann Wang

Symbolism matters — Taiwan's post-Pelosi politics

Now that US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has left Taiwan, most of the attention will likely shift to how China responds, how the US responds to China's response, and how this all plays out in US domestic politics. But spare a thought for the self-governing democratic island of 23 million caught in the crossfire between Beijing and Washington.

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A reporter raises a hand to ask a question to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in Washington, DC.

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Will she, won’t she? The fallout from Pelosi’s Taiwan talk

Nancy Pelosi’s office announced Sunday that the US House speaker will be going this week to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, and Japan. But no mention of Taiwan, even after she met Singaporean officials on Monday.

This doesn’t necessarily mean she’s skipping her previously announced intention to tour the self-governing island of 24 million claimed by China. Perhaps the stopover was left out of her finalized itinerary anyway due to “security concerns” following threats from Beijing and the cold shoulder from the Pentagon and the White House.

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Taiwan and US flags are placed for a meeting in Taipei.

REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

What We’re Watching: Trading with Taiwan, Türkiye talk, battered Boric

Washington & Taipei launch new trade deal

The US and Taiwan just unveiled a new trade initiative to expand cooperation across a number of sectors, including agriculture, tech, and labor regulation, among others. Taipei sees the pact as a precursor to an eventual free trade deal. For Washington, this is the latest initiative to come from its strong Asia focus in recent weeks. Just days ago, President Joe Biden launched the Indo-Pacific Regional Framework, a trade deal with 13 states – including regional heavyweights India, Japan, Australia, South Korea, and some Pacific islands – in a bid to counter China’s regional clout. (Taiwan was not invited to that deal to avoid really irking Beijing.) The US wants to address technology trade with Taiwan, specifically semiconductor production. The self-governing island produces more than 90% of the world’s semiconductors, which power the device you’re reading this on and have been in short supply thanks to the pandemic’s distribution and production disruptions. Washington would love to help prop up Taiwan’s semiconductor industry to block China from getting a bigger piece of the global tech pie. Beijing, obviously not thrilled, called on Washington to “stop elevating relations with Taiwan,” which it sees as part of the mainland.

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