Although the U.S. withdrew its formal diplomatic recognition of the government of Taiwan during the Carter Administration, America still has an obligation (under the Taiwan Relations Act) to defend Taiwan against any aggression by China.
Thus, while the U.S. does not have an embassy in Taiwan (the entity performing equivalent functions there is called an “institute”) and no longer stations military units on the island, the U.S. Government provides assistance and advanced weapons sales to Taiwan’s armed forces.
Some American politicians and commentators have called for closer cooperation with Taiwan as China’s influence grows in the Pacific region, including more substantial and direct military-to-military contacts. Per a story carried on news.com.au, a Chinese diplomat was surprisingly undiplomatic in expressing his feelings about such contacts (specifically addressing the idea of U.S. naval visits to Taiwan):
“The day that a US Navy vessel arrives in Kaohsiung, is the day that our People’s Liberation Army unites Taiwan with military force,” Chinese diplomat Li Kexin is quoted as telling an embassy event in the United States.
thumbnail courtesy of news.com.au (originally via AFP)