Taiwanese sailors take part in a military drill. Photo: MANDY CHENG/AFP/Getty Images

As the US and China slouch towards each other’s throats over trade and technology, one of the issues that is set to get hot again is Taiwan. Late last week, President Trump signed a bill that encourages high-level official bilateral visits between Washington and the island nation of 23 million. Beijing, which considers Taiwan to still be a province of China, is not pleased. 

The big picture: Self-governing Taiwan is where the nationalist forces who lost the Chinese civil war to Mao set up shop in 1949. As part of a deal to establish formal relations with China in 1979, the US agreed to pantomime Beijing’s “One China” policy, while also maintaining a robust trade relationship with the island that includes more than $25 billion in arms sales since then.

In recent months, the temperature has risen as the US broadens its diplomatic support for the pro-independence leadership that won Taiwan’s elections in 2016, while China has increased its efforts to diplomatically isolate and militarily threaten the island. Chinese officials have warned that if the US keeps up its new overtures to Taiwan, Beijing could move to forcefully reunite the island with the mainland – a longstanding threat that carries new weight under the assertive leadership of President Xi Jinping.

Trump and Congress, for their part, seem unfazed. Set in the context of broader tensions between the US and China – over trade, technology, North Korea, and the South China Sea – this long-simmering point of contention between Washington and Beijing could get hot again, and fast.

Go deeper: U.S. official visits Taiwan amid tensions with China over travel act.

Sign up for Signal, a twice-weekly newsletter from GZERO Media, a Eurasia Group company, and follow @saosasha on Twitter.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
30 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Oil's turbulent long-term future

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The oil sector is facing risks from all sides.

Why it matters: Risk in the industry is nothing new. But these are especially turbulent and uncertain times. The industry's market clout has waned, the future of demand is kind of a mystery, and future U.S. policy is too, just to name three.

Meadows on Wray's voter fraud dismissal: "He has a hard time finding emails in his own FBI"

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows dismissed FBI Director Chris Wray's testimony that the U.S. has never historically seen evidence of widespread voter fraud, including by mail, during an appearance on "CBS This Morning" on Friday.

Why it matters: Meadows' statement highlights the Trump administration's strategy to sow doubt in November's election results by challenging the legitimacy of mail-in ballots, which are expected to skew heavily in Democrats' favor.

The next cliff for the unemployed

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A program supporting Americans who are typically ineligible for unemployment benefits will expire at the end of the year, with millions still relying on it as the labor market sputters.

Why it matters: The result could be catastrophic for the economic recovery that Wall Street fears is already fragile.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!