A White House petition calling for the United States to recognize Taiwan as an independent country surpassed 100,000 signatures over the weekend, a threshold that will require an official response from the Trump administration within 60 days.
The petition, posted on petitions.whitehouse.gov, was created on October 7 by someone with the initials “K.W.” It calls for the U.S. to recognize Taiwan, an “island country independently self-governed for 60 years now.”
People hold Taiwanese flags as they join others at a rally to mark Taiwan’s National Day, in the Tsim Sha Tsui district in Hong Kong, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019.
The petition calls Taiwan “a model for other Asian countries to follow, having transitioned from a dictatorship into democracy in 1996 without bloodshed, when it voted for its first presidential election.”
Taiwan “is a leader and partner to the United States, providing assistance to other countries with humanitarian aid and rescue teams during disasters. It is also a strategic partner in the Pacific, and important ally in helping to contain China,” the petition said.
Between Friday and Saturday, the petition garnered more than half the necessary signatures to prompt a response from the White House.
The petition comes amid mounting pressure from mainland China, which regards Taiwan as its own territory. In recent years, China has poached Taiwan’s few remaining diplomatic allies through a tactic dubbed by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen as “dollar diplomacy.”
During a National Day speech last week, Tsai rebuked China’s offer of a “one country, two systems” formula to unify Taiwan with China, saying that such a framework has taken Hong Kong to “the brink of disorder.”
Today, just 15 countries – mostly small and impoverished – recognize Taiwan. Roughly 180 countries recognize China, which as the world’s second-largest economy offers generous inducements in exchange for formal diplomatic ties, far beyond those Taiwan can offer.
Taiwan depends on the U.S. for support, including weapons to defend against China. The Trump administration has approved a flurry of arms packages, including new F-16 fighters jets, and signed a bill that encourages high-level visits.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.