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It’s time for the United States to recognize the reality by recognizing Taiwan

The United States’ “one China policy”, which recognizes Communist China’s claim to authority over Taiwan, was conceived almost half a century ago by President Richard Nixon as a means of to drive a wedge between Mao’s China and the former Soviet Union. It became a reality under President Jimmy Carter, who recognized Beijing in 1979 and severed official U.S. ties with Taiwan – without congressional approval.

Politics is a holdover from a bygone era. It also turns out to be a spectacular failure – something that becomes more evident with each passing day.

America’s decision to cement its ties with the People’s Republic of China was based on Beijing’s commitment to peacefully resolve its differences with Taiwan. But you would never know by watching the evening news. More than 40 years later, Chinese People’s Liberation Army planes enter the Taiwan Air Defense Identification Zone almost daily, and Beijing state propaganda bodies regularly threaten to “destroy.” Island democracy – ignoring the fundamental assurance upon which US-China relations are built. is based.

President Richard Nixon toasts with Chinese leader Chou En Lai in February 1972 in Beijing during Nixon’s official visit to China. (AFP via Getty Images)

This disturbing “bipartisan” trend started by Carter and Nixon was accelerated by President Bill Clinton who supported preferential “most-favored-nation” trade status for China. It was then supercharged with Beijing joining the World Trade Organization under President George W. Bush.

The results were as predictable as they were disappointing. We have seen a parade of multinational corporations, financial institutions, Hollywood actors and even American sports superstars join in a brazen scramble to see who can most effectively bow to a regime that is the world champion in title of predatory economic behavior, human rights violations, and even genocide. These well-heeled, politically connected institutions are also exerting pressure on this side of the Pacific – ironically carrying the Communist Party of China water to Washington, DC.

It's time for the United States to recognize the reality by recognizing Taiwan

A display is seen near a logo outside the NBA flagship retail store on October 9, 2019 in Beijing, China. (Kevin Frayer / Getty Images)

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that in recent years, U.S. policymakers have started to recognize the flaws in this outdated policy and have taken steps to try to correct the shooting – lifting restrictions on high-level communications between U.S. and Taiwanese officials, supporting Taiwan’s participation in international forums, sending a cabinet-level US delegation to Taiwan for the first time in decades, and even sending US Marines to help train Taiwanese military personnel.

It's time for the United States to recognize the reality by recognizing Taiwan

A view of the South China Sea between the city of Xiamen in China in the distance and the Kinmen Islands in Taiwan in the foreground on February 2, 2021 (An Rong Xu / Getty Images)

In this April 12, 2018 photo released by the Xinhua News Agency, the Liaoning aircraft carrier is accompanied by Navy frigates and submarines conducting exercises in the South China Sea.  China has announced live-fire military exercises in the Taiwan Strait amid heightened tensions over increased US support for Taiwan.  The announcement by authorities in coastal Fujian Province on Thursday was accompanied by a statement that the navy would end a three-day exercise in southern China a day earlier.  (Li Gang / Xinhua via AP)

In this photo released on April 12, 2018, the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning is accompanied by navy frigates and submarines conducting exercises in the South China Sea. (Li Gang / Xinhua via AP)

It's time for the United States to recognize the reality by recognizing Taiwan

Chinese J-15 fighter jets on the deck of the Liaoning aircraft carrier during military exercises in the South China Sea on January 2, 2017 (STR / AFP via Getty Images)

The United States has also encouraged the handful of countries with formal ties to Taiwan to keep them – most recently in Honduras, where a November election in which the question of leaving Taiwan for China featured in good place. Unfortunately for Taiwan, the United States and the Honduran people, the pro-Beijing leftist candidate appears to have won this competition.

This is hardly a surprise. As long as the United States asks cash-strapped governments of developing countries to stay with Taiwan when America itself refuses to do so, US diplomacy hijacked in Taipei’s behalf will continue to lack real credibility. And what happened last month in Honduras will continue to repeat itself until Taiwan – a key democratic partner and a global semiconductor powerhouse – finds itself completely isolated. Such an outcome would be disastrous and none of us can afford it.

Taiwan’s exclusion from the international community is not an academic matter and has already inflicted substantial damage in real life. Recall that Taiwan tried to warn the World Health Organization (WHO) at the end of 2019 of the human-to-human transmission of a new coronavirus hitherto unknown. But because Taiwan was shut out of the WHO thanks to relentless and irrational Chinese intimidation, that warning went unheeded, and we have lived with the consequences ever since.

It's time for the United States to recognize the reality by recognizing Taiwan

Pro-Taiwan protesters demonstrate outside United Nations offices on the opening day of the World Health Organization’s annual meeting, May 22, 2017, in Geneva. Despite passionate appeals from several countries, the WHO annual assembly refused to even discuss Taiwan’s admission to the meeting, a move hailed by China. (FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP via Getty Images)

The world has changed dramatically since Jimmy Carter was in the White House, and so has America’s hopelessly archaic and counterproductive “one China policy”. This is why I introduced a bill calling on President Biden to abandon the lie of a “one China”, to support Taiwan’s membership in international organizations, to negotiate a free trade agreement with Taiwan and and finally to normalize relations between our two countries.

It is high time for the United States to lead by example and officially recognize Taiwan for what it is: a democratic and independent nation.

Tom Tiffany represents Wisconsin’s 7th District in the United States House of Representatives.

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