STORY: Taiwan will remain at the center of China-U.S. tensions in 2023.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in August lifted the military threat to its highest level in years.
China read it as U.S. support for independence and launched war games near the island, including firing missiles over Taipei for the first time ever.
Taiwan maintains Beijing’s claims of sovereignty are void, and says it will defend itself if attacked.
Any war over Taiwan, a major producer of semiconductors, could crash the global economy and draw the U.S. and its allies into direct confrontation with China.
China sees Taiwan as the most important and sensitive issue in its relations with the U.S., a message Chinese President Xi Jinping reiterated to President Joe Biden when they met in Bali in November.
Washington has a policy of "strategic ambiguity" on defending Taiwan from a military attack. But in September, Biden was more explicit. He told CBS 60 Minutes that U.S. forces would defend Taiwan if there was an unprecedented attack.
Beijing has never renounced the use of force in Taiwan, which Xi made clear at the 20th Communist Party congress in October.
Anti-China sentiment along with support for Taiwan is building in the U.S., and in its newly Republican-controlled House.
Any trip to Taipei by the likely new Speaker Kevin McCarthy would trigger yet more tension across the Taiwan Strait and between Washington and Beijing.
In 2023 both Taiwan's main political parties will be gearing up for presidential and parliamentary elections in early 2024.
The Kuomintang, which traditionally favors close ties with China while denying being pro-Beijing, is hoping to return to power after two terms in opposition.