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Taipei's Name Game

It's Time to Let Taiwan Be Taiwan

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen speaks on the phone with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, December 2016. Reuters

First the phone call, then the bombshell. On December 2, Donald Trump reversed 37 years of American foreign policy by taking a ten-minute congratulatory phone call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. Yesterday, he went further, announcing that he doesn’t know “why we [the United States] have to be bound by a One China policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade.”

Trump’s official position is still unclear, but his comments indicate that on the issue of Taiwan, he may favor changing a status quo that has persisted for nearly four decades. The current version of the United States’ One China policy, which holds that there is only one legitimate government of China, dates to 1979, when the United States recognized the communist government in Beijing while breaking off formal diplomatic ties with the nationalist government in Taipei.

At the time, Taiwan was still

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