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Why won't the U.S., and the U.S. specifically, recognize Taiwan as a country? The U.S. is providing military aid to Taiwan, which angers China and provides political support for its inclusion on many international organizations such as the WHO, but the U.S. won't recognize Taiwan as a country even though it is China's biggest political rival. Why is that? It seems to go against every action the U.S. routinely does for Taiwan and against China.

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The Republic of China doesn't claim to be a country as Taiwan; it makes no claim to be independent. The RoC claims to be the legitimate government of the whole of China. Since the 1970s, the USA has recognised the reality that the government in Taipei has no authority over the mainland and the PRC government in Beijing is the only body with real and effective power on the mainland of China.

So the USA doesn't recognise the RoC as the government of China because it isn't. And it doesn't recognise it as the government of Taiwan because the RoC is very clear that it doesn't want to be recognised as "Taiwan".

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Straight from the horse's mouth.

China and the US, under Carter, normalized relations on Dec 15, 1978.

By the terms of the agreement the two sides reached, the United States acknowledged “the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China.” The United States declared its intention to abrogate the Mutual Defense Treaty between the United States and the Republic of China, originally signed in December 1954. Simultaneously, however, the United States declared in the Joint Communiqué that it would “maintain cultural, commercial, and other unofficial relations with the people of Taiwan.”

Part of the deal was the US not pretending Taiwan was boss of China anymore. And since there could only be one China, it was PRC. On the other hand, the US treats Taiwan as nearly a normal nation in almost every other respect, including guarantees on its security.

This farce about Taiwan is precisely the farce that most of the rest of world goes through as well, in order to placate China's sensibilities, nothing US specific about it.

In fact, as JamesK has noted, even Taiwan goes along with it, mostly because China has repeatedly stated Taiwan declaring itself a country would be a casus belli (cause for war).

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