In order to help box in his successor and secure the continuity of our long-overdue recalibration with our preeminent 21st-century geopolitical threat, there is one farewell action above all that would stick in the craw of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and redound to America’s substantive benefit. Trump ought to formally recognize Taiwan (also known as the Republic of China) as an independent state, distinct from the Beijing-based regime—and he must do so, with all the diplomatic accoutrements such a formal recognition entails, posthaste.
There are few territorial disputes about which the CCP is more adamant than its insistence that both mainland China and Taiwan are part of a single, unified Chinese state—with the Beijing-based People’s Republic of China (PRC) as the sole legitimate representative of that state. It has also been de facto, if not quite official, U.S. policy since the Jimmy Carter administration. As with most other Carter-era foreign policy initiatives that are remnants of a capitulatory Cold War posture, this stance is misguided and counterproductive: It is past time for the U.S. to formally repudiate the “one-China policy” and open an embassy in Taipei.