The US visit of the Taiwan’s leader, Tsai Ing-wen came at a time of exacerbated relationship before the US and China. Chinese officials make condemnation and warned that Tsai’s US transit could lead to a “serious” confrontation in the US- China relationship and have a “severe impact” on their ties.
The US is bound by law to sell arms to Taiwan for its self-defense, though it ended its formal diplomatic relationship with Taipei in 1979 when it recognized the government in Beijing. Tsai’s visit or transit is not characterized as an official visit in order to keep the US government within the longstanding “One China” policy because of the unofficial relationship the US has with Taiwan.
US officials sought to downplay Tsai’s stopover and urged Chinese government not to use them as an excuse or pretext to carry out any aggressive activity around the Taiwan Strait.
Frictions between China and the US have heightened in recent years. Chinese leader Xi Jinping has ramped up military, diplomatic and economic pressure on the island while Chinese government vowed to take Taiwan by force if necessary.