Taiwan has maintained de facto independence since Chinese nationalist forces relocated there in 1949 after their rout by Mao Zedong’s communists, but Beijing still considers it part of its own territory and has sought to bring it back into the fold. Lately, China has been pressuring the few countries that still have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan to cut them off and has stepped up military exercises in the region. Hard-liners in China’s military are reportedly frustrated with what they see as an overly cautious approach to Taiwan’s continued defiance.
Taiwanese leaders have been wary about declaring full independence for fear of provoking Chinese retaliation, but Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party strongly opposes closer unification with China. The party that founded modern Taiwan, the Kuomintang, now ironically promotes closer ties with Beijing. While most Taiwanese oppose reunification, most also now see it as inevitable, given China’s military and economic strength.