Taiwanese people consider their self-ruled island – with its own form of government and a democratic system – to be distinct.
Tensions reached a peak in August when Beijing staged huge military drills around Taiwan in a protest against US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island.
The US has long walked a tightrope over Taiwan. Officially, it has no formal ties with Taiwan, but has also pledged to supply the island with defensive weapons and stressed that any attack by China would cause “grave concern”.
Two parties, two views
There are two main political parties in Taiwan and they have differing approaches to China.
The Kuomintang (KMT), a party of conservative business champions, are traditionally seen as pro-China “doves”.
They have advocated economic engagement with China and have appeared to be in favour of unification, though they strongly deny being pro-China.
Their main rival is Ms Tsai’s governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Ms Tsai won by a landslide in the 2020 national election.
She has taken a strong stance towards China, saying Beijing needed to show Taiwan respect and that Taipei would not bow to pressure.
She was re-elected on a promise to stand up to Beijing. Locals told the BBC at the time that protests in Hong Kong and Beijing’s subsequent crackdown on civil rights had raised concerns in Taiwan.
( Source BBC)