Is a Storm Brewing in the Taiwan Strait?

Tensions Are Rising Between Beijing and Taipei

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen attends a military drill in Penghu, Taiwan in May 2017.  Tyrone Siu / Reuters

On June 24, in her first interview with Western media in well over a year, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen called on the international community to “work together to reaffirm our values of democracy and freedom in order to constrain China and also minimize the expansion of their hegemonic influence.” These are remarkably strong words for a president of the Republic of China (Taiwan)—even for Tsai, a member of the notionally independence-minded Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Since Tsai was elected in 2016, she has remained committed to the status quo in cross-strait relations, despite what she called in her interview “immense pressure” from Beijing. This means maintaining de facto rather than de jure independence for Taiwan, conducting cross-strait affairs in accordance with the ROC constitution and extant legislation, and respecting previously negotiated cross-strait agreements. 

Beijing, on the other hand, has intensified its efforts to unify Taiwan and mainland China under Beijing’s “

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