Here’s a short version of a very long, complicated, and dangerous story. At the end of WWII a civil war broke out in China between the communist forces of Mao Tse-tung and the established forces of Chiang Kai-shek. Chiang wasn’t a good buy but he wasn’t a communist so we supported him. The eventual winner of this conflict was the communist dictator, Mao Tse-tung.
In order to save himself and what remained of his army, Chiang Kai-shek left mainland China and occupied the island of what we know as Taiwan, which had been a province of China. The mainland Chinese government still insists that Taiwan belongs to them.
In this dispute over Taiwan the US sided with Chiang and offered military and economic assistance. For may years the US officially considered the nation of China to be Taiwan and literally ignored the presence of the mainland. We used our power to seat Taiwan in the UN’s China seat. If you looked at a world map showing only those nations the US recognized, the entire mainland of China might have been colored blue, as if it were just ocean.
China, during this period, was not as economically or militarily as powerful as today, threatened to invade and retake Taiwan. On many occasions during the 1950s the Chinese shelled Taiwan from islands it held in the Sea of Formosa. The US kept Navy ships in the area to counter Chinese threats against Taiwan.
In the 1970s President Nixon, to our shock, went to China and began what we know today. By the end of the 70s and President Carter the deal had been sealed and we agreed to only recognize mainland China as the one and official China. Even though the US has continued trade with Taiwan and still works to keep the area stable, Taiwan belongs to China.
So, for many decades war has been averted along Asia’s Pacific coast by a very sensitive and delicate set of protocols, agreements, and behaviors in that area. Then along comes this Trump doofus, who has little knowledge of history and even less of diplomacy, and tosses a Ma Bell stink bomb into the region.
It probably isn’t going to cause a war but it will stir up emotions and rekindle suspicions. It will foster instability where less existed before he picked up his telephone and called the president of Taiwan to tell her how well he bigly loves all Taiwanese people and how huge it was that he beat Hillary.
Decisions have consequences and when you send an ignorant rookie to do an experienced diplomat’s job, be ready to duck and cover!