Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defence said Shandong and accompanying frigates sailed northwards through the Strait. Taiwan will see Presidential elections on January 11 with incumbent Tsai Ing-wen facing Han Kuo-yu of the Kuomintang (KMT) and James Soong of People First. The US State Department called on Beijing to “abstain from coercion that would jeopardise the security, or the social or economic system, of the people [in] Taiwan”.
It added: “The United States has a deep and abiding interest in cross-strait peace and stability. Taiwan is a reliable partner, a democratic role model, and a force for good in the world.
“We encourage authorities in Beijing and Taipei to engage in constructive dialogue that seeks a peaceful resolution of differences acceptable to the people of both sides of the Taiwan Strait.”
Taiwan’s official name is the Republic of China (ROC) and it was formed after the KMT lost the Chinese Civil War and left the Chinese mainland, which fell under the control of the Chinese Communist Party as the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
Both the ROC and PRC claim to be the official government of China.
Today, Taiwan is split into two loose camps, the Pan-Green coalition, which is broadly pro-independence and contains Ms Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party.
Ms Tsai thinks a formal declaration of independence, which would cross a redline for Beijing, is unnecessary due to Taiwan’s de facto independence.
The other camp containing both the KMT and People First is the Pan-Blue coalition which favours eventual unification with Beijing.
When Ms Tsai became Taiwanese President in 2016, it was only the third time a member of the Pan-Green coalition became President with the KMT ruling in Taipei from 1947 until 2000 and from 2008 until that election.
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Since Ms Tsai became President, six nations have shifted international recognition from the ROC to PRC.
These are Sao Tome and Principe, Panama, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, the Solomon Islands and Kiribati.
The United States shifted recognition in 1979 and the UK in 1950.
Neither has formal diplomatic relations with Taipei anymore.
London maintains unofficial relations, as does the US.
Taiwan recognises all UN member states with the exception of China and North Korea, but only 15 UN states recognise and have diplomatic recognition with it.
None of these are in Asia.
The Holy See, a UN observer, is the only European state.
The PRC has proposed to use the one country, two systems principle, devised to govern Hong Kong and Macau with separate political, economic and legal affairs, in the unification it hopes to achieve with Taiwan.