For sixty years the issue of Taiwan has played a key role in the Sino-US relationship.
In recent times closer relations between the United States and China have been accompanied by vastly improved trust across the Taiwan Straits. Direct flights, economic ties, direct investment in both directions, even cooperation between maritime patrol; all these developments would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.
But now, as President Barack Obama prepares to visit China for the first time, a Chinese academic has written an article in which he claims that complete mutual trust between the two nations cannot exist until this issue is resolved. According to Li Jiaquan, a senior fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the Taiwan issue concerns China's core national interests, and even if it is not immediately resolved, Beijing needs a clear direction for the solution.
He describes the problem as a knot in the cord that binds China and the US, which all previous U.S. Presidents have chosen not to untie. Li says that during Obama’s visit to China, the US President will definitely face the question of whether he intends to attempt undoing that knot or leave it as it is.