The Republic of China (commonly known as Taiwan) and the United States of America have maintained unofficial relations since 1979. Following the passage of Taiwan Travel Act by the US Congress on 16 March 2018, relations between US and Taiwan have since maneuvered to an official and high-level basis.
Relations between the United States and the Qing dynasty began on June 16, 1844. The official relations between the government of the Republic of China on Taiwan and the federal government of the United States terminated due to the recognition of Beijing. The United States has relations with the 'people on Taiwan' with the Taiwan Relations Act. The policy of deliberate ambiguity of US foreign policy to Republic of China (ROC) is important to stabilize cross-strait relations and to assist the Republic of China (ROC) from an invasion by the People's Republic of China (PRC) if possible, whereas a policy of strategic clarity on Taiwan would likely induce PRC opposition and challenges US legitimacy in East Asia or beyond.
|Common name||Taiwan||United States|
|Official name||Republic of China||United States of America|
|Coat of Arms|
|Population||23,519,518 (2016 est.) ||324,403,593 (September 2016 est.)|
|Population growth||0.02% (2016 est.)||0.77% (2014 est.)|
|Urbanization||78.0% of total population (2011)||82.4% of total population (2012)|
|Area||36,193 km² excluding coastal water (sea) territories||9,525,468 km² excluding coastal water (sea) territories|
|Capital||Taipei (seat of government)||Washington, D.C.|
|Largest city||New Taipei – 3,972,204 (3,972,204 Metro)||New York City – 8,560,405 (20,182,305 Metro)|
|Government||Unitary semi-presidential constitutional republic||Federal presidential constitutional republic|
|First leader||Sun Yat-Sen||George Washington|
|Current leader(s)||President: Tsai Ing-wen
Vice-President: Chen Chien-jen
|President: Donald Trump
Vice-President: Mike Pence
|Main languages||Taiwanese Mandarin (Guoyu)||English|
|Main religions||35.1% Buddhism, 33.0% Taoist, 18.7% Non-religious,
3.9% Christianity, 3.5% Yiguandao (XTD),
2.4% Other, 2.2% Tiandism (XTD),
1.1% Miledadao (XTD), 0.8% Zailiism,
|70.6% Christianity (46.5% Protestantism, 20.8% Catholicism,
1.6% Mormonism, 1.7% Other Christianity), 22.8% non-Religious,
1.9% Judaism, 0.9% Islam, 0.7% Buddhism, 0.7% Hinduism
|Ethnic groups||95% Han Chinese, 70% Hokkien, 14% Hakka, 14% Waishengren||77.1% White, 13.3% African American, 5.6% Asian American,
2.6% Two or more races, 1.2% American Indian or Alaska Native,
0.2% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander,
With 17.6% Hispanic and Latino (of any race)
|GDP (nominal)||$588.334 billion (2016 estimate)||$18.558 trillion (2016 estimate)|
|GDP (nominal) per capita||$24,985 (2016 estimate)||$57,220 (2016 estimate)|
|GDP (PPP)||$1.147 trillion (2016 estimate)||$18.558 trillion (2016 estimate)|
|GDP (PPP) per capita||$48,703 (2016 estimate)||$57,220 (2016 estimate)|
|Real GDP growth rate||0.69% (2015)||2.6% (2015)|
|Currency||New Taiwan dollar (NT$)||United States dollar ($)|
|Military expenditure||$10.9 billion||$640.0 billion|
Leaders of Taiwan and United States from 1950
Formal diplomatic relations between the United States and the Chinese Empire began about June 16, 1844 as the countries engaged in the negotiations which led to the Treaty of Wangxia. From 1784 consuls were sent to Guangzhou, the treaty port open to traders from the United States.
Two American diplomats in the 1850s suggested to Washington that the U.S. should obtain the island of Taiwan from China, but the idea was rejected Aboriginals on Taiwan often attacked and massacred shipwrecked western sailors, and American diplomats tried to help them. In 1867, during the Rover incident, Taiwanese aborigines attacked shipwrecked American sailors, killing the entire crew. They subsequently skirmished against and defeated a retaliatory expedition by the American military and killed another American during the battle.
In the Japanese era, the United States also hosted a consulate in Taihoku, Formosa (today Taipei) from 1913. The consulate was closed in 1941 due to United States declaration of war on Japan. The site is now protected as the Former American Consulate in Taipei.
In October 1945, representatives of Chiang Kai-shek, on behalf of the Allied Powers, were sent to Taiwan to accept the surrender of Japanese troops. However, during the period of the 1940s, there was no recognition by the United States Government that Taiwan had ever been incorporated into Chinese national territory. Chiang continued to remain suspicious of the American motives.
As the Korean War broke out, the Truman administration resumed economic and military aid to the ROC on Taiwan and neutralized Taiwan Strait by United States Seventh Fleet to stop a Communist invasion of Formosa. US military presence in Taiwan consisted of the Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) and the United States Taiwan Defense Command (USTDC). Other notable units included the 327th Air Division. Until the US formally recognized China in 1979, Washington provided ROC with financial grants based on the Foreign Assistance Act, Mutual Security Act and Act for International Development enacted by the US Congress. A separate Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty was signed between the two governments of US and ROC in 1954 and lasted until 1979.
The U.S. State Department's official position in 1959 was:
At the height of the Sino-Soviet Split, and at the start of the reform and opening of People's Republic of China, the United States strategically switched diplomatic recognition from the Republic of China (ROC) to the People's Republic of China (PRC) on January 1, 1979 to counter the political influences and military threats from the Soviet Union. The US Embassy in Taipei was 'migrated' to Beijing and the Taiwanese Embassy in the US was closed. Following the termination of diplomatic relations, the United States terminated its Mutual Defense Treaty with Taiwan on January 1, 1980.
On April 10, 1979, U.S. President Jimmy Carter signed into law the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), which created domestic legal authority for the conduct of unofficial relations with Taiwan. U.S. commercial, cultural, and other interaction with the people on Taiwan is facilitated through the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), a private nonprofit corporation. The Institute has its headquarters in the Washington, DC area and has offices in Taipei and Kaohsiung. It is authorized to issue visas, accept passport applications, and provide assistance to U.S. citizens in Taiwan. A counterpart organization, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States (TECRO), has been established by Taiwan. It has its headquarters in Taipei, the representative branch office in Washington, DC, and 11 other Taipei Economic and Cultural Offices (TECO) in the continental U.S. and Guam. The Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) continues to provide the legal basis for the unofficial relationship between the U.S. and Taiwan, and enshrines the U.S. commitment to assisting Taiwan maintain its defensive capability.
After de-recognition, the U.S. still maintains unofficial diplomatic relations with Taiwan through Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office; the current head of TECRO in Washington, D.C. is Stanley Kao. The American Institute in Taiwan, a non-profit institute headquarters in the US soil under the laws of the District of Columbia in Arlington County, Virginia and serves as the semi-official, working-level US representation and AIT has branch offices in Taipei and Kaohsiung. The Chairman of AIT is Raymond Burghardt. Christopher J. Marut was appointed to be the new AIT Taipei Office Director in August 2012. With the absence of diplomatic recognition, in the present state, Taiwan-US relations are formally guided by the service of enactment of Taiwan Relations Act by US Congress for the continuation of Taiwan-US relations after 1979. In 2013, Taiwan Policy Act of 2013 was raised and passed in House Committee on Foreign Affairs by the US Congress to update the condition of US-Taiwan relations. In 2015 Kin Moy was appointed to the Director of the AIT.
U.S. commercial ties with Taiwan have been maintained and have expanded since 1979. Taiwan continues to enjoy Export-Import Bank financing, Overseas Private Investment Corporation guarantees, normal trade relations (NTR) status, and ready access to U.S. markets. In recent years, AIT commercial dealings with Taiwan have focused on expanding market access for American goods and services. AIT has been engaged in a series of trade discussions, which have focused on copyright concerns and market access for U.S. goods and services.
On December 16, 2015, the Obama administration announced a deal to sell $1.83 billion worth of arms to the Armed Forces of Taiwan, a year and eight months after U.S. Congress passed the Taiwan Relations Act Affirmation and Naval Vessel Transfer Act of 2014 to allow the sale of Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates to Taiwan. The deal would include the sale of two decommissioned U.S. Navy frigates, anti-tank missiles, Assault Amphibious Vehicles, and FIM-92 Stinger surface-to-air missiles, amid the territorial disputes in the South China Sea. China's foreign ministry had expressed its disapproval for the sales and issued the U.S. a "stern warning", saying it would hurt China–U.S. relations.
Officially, the United States has supported the One-China policy since WWII, which acknowledged only one government as the sole legal government of China. In 1949, when Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek's troops decamped to Taiwan at the end of the Chinese civil war, Washington continued to recognize Chiang's "Republic of China" as the government of all China. In late 1978, Washington announced that it would break relations with the government in Taipei and formally recognize the People's Republic of China (PRC) as the "sole legal government of China." 
Washington's "one China" policy, however, does not mean that the United States recognizes, nor agrees with Beijing's claims to sovereignty over Taiwan. On July 14, 1982 the Republican Reagan Administration gave specific assurances to Taiwan that the United States did not accept China's claim to sovereignty over the island (Six Assurances), and the U.S. Department of State informed the Senate that "[t]he United States takes no position on the question of Taiwan's sovereignty."
The U.S. Department of State, in its U.S. Relations With Taiwan fact sheet, states "The United States and Taiwan enjoy a robust unofficial relationship. The 1979 U.S.-P.R.C. Joint Communique switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing. In the Joint Communique, the United States recognized the Government of the People's Republic of China as the sole legal government of China, acknowledging the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China.
The United States position on Taiwan is reflected in "the six assurances to Taiwan", the Three Communiqués, and the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA). The Six Assurances include: 1. The United States has not agreed to set a date for ending arms sales to Taiwan; 2. The United States has not agreed to hold prior consultations with the Chinese on arms sales to Taiwan; 3. The United States would not play any mediation role between Taiwan and Beijing; 4. The United States has not agreed to revise the Taiwan Relations Act; 5. The United States has not altered its position regarding sovereignty over Taiwan; and 6. The United States would not exert pressure on Taiwan to enter into negotiations with the Chinese. The "Three Communiqués" include The Shanghai Communiqué, The Normalisation Communiqué, and The August 17 Communiqué, which pledged to abrogate official US-ROC relations, remove US troops from Taiwan and gradually end the arms sale to Taiwan, but with the latter of no timeline to do so, an effort made by James Lilley, the Director of American Institute in Taiwan.
Despite friendly relations with China, United States President George W. Bush was asked on 25 April 2001, "if Taiwan were attacked by China, do we (The U.S.) have an obligation to defend the Taiwanese?" He responded, "Yes, we do...and the Chinese must understand that. The United States would do whatever it took to help Taiwan defend herself." He made it understood that "though we (China and the U.S.) have common interests, the Chinese must understand that there will be some areas where we disagree." 
On 19 June 2013, ROC Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed gratitude for a US Congress's bill in support of Taiwan's bid to participate in the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). On July 12, 2013, US President Barack Obama signed into law H.R. 1151, codifying the US government's full support for Taiwan's participation in the ICAO as a non-sovereign entity. The United States has continued the sale of appropriate defensive military equipment to Taiwan in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act, which provides for such sales and which declares that peace and stability in the area are in U.S. interests. Sales of defensive military equipment are also consistent with the 1982 U.S.-P.R.C. Joint Communiqué.
Maintaining diplomatic relations with the PRC has been recognised to be in the long-term interest of the United States by seven consecutive administrations; however, maintaining strong, unofficial relations with Taiwan is also a major U.S. goal, in line with its desire to further peace and stability in Asia. In keeping with its China policy, the U.S. does not support de jure Taiwan independence, but it does support Taiwan's membership in appropriate international organisations, such as the World Trade Organisation, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, and the Asian Development Bank, where statehood is not a requirement for membership. In addition, the U.S. supports appropriate opportunities for Taiwan's voice to be heard in organisations where its membership is not possible.
On August 24, 2010, the United States State Department announced a change to commercial sales of military equipment in place of the previous foreign military sales in the hope of avoiding political implications. However pressure from the PRC has continued and it seems unlikely that Taiwan will be provided with advanced submarines or jet fighters.
Taiwan has denied that they are providing American military secrets to the PRC.
On December 2, 2016, U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump accepted a congratulatory call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen, which was the first time since 1979 that a President-Elect has publicly spoken to a leader of Taiwan. Donald Trump stated the call was regarding "the close economic, political and security ties between Taiwan and the US". The phone call had been arranged by Robert Dole, who acted as a foreign agent on behalf of Taiwan.
On 16 March 2018 President Trump signed the Taiwan Travel Act, allowing high-level diplomatic engagement between Taiwanese and American officials, and encourages visits between government officials of the United States and Taiwan at all levels. The legislation has sparked outrage from the PRC, and has been applauded by Taiwan.
Mutual Recognition, 1844. Formal recognition by the United States of the Empire of China, and by the Empire of China of the United States, came on or about June 16, 1844, when U.S. Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary Caleb Cushing presented his credentials and met with Chinese official Qiying to discuss treaty negotiations. Prior to this, the United States had dispatched consuls to Guangzhou as early as 1784—the first was Samuel Shaw, the supercargo on the Empress of China—but these had never been formally received by Chinese officials as state representatives. The two countries had acknowledged each other's existence before 1844, but the negotiations and treaty of that year marked the first recognition under international law.