Dangerous Strait

Dangerous Strait: The U.S.-Taiwan-China Crisis

Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Dangerous Strait
    Book Description:

    Today the most dangerous place on earth is arguably the Taiwan Strait, where a war between the United States and China could erupt out of miscalculation, misunderstanding, or accident. How and to what degree Taiwan pursues its own national identity will have profound ramifications in its relationship with China as well as in relations between China and the United States.

    Events late in 2004 demonstrated the volatility of the situation, as Taiwan's legislative elections unexpectedly preserved a slim majority for supporters of closer relations with China. Beijing, nevertheless, threatened to pass an anti-secession law, apt to revitalize pro-independence forces in Taiwan -- and make war more likely. Taking change as a central theme, these essays by prominent scholars and practitioners in the arena of U.S.-Taiwan-Chinese relations combine historical context with timely analysis of an accelerating crisis. The book clarifies historical developments, examines myths about past and present policies, and assesses issues facing contemporary policymakers. Moving beyond simplistic explanations that dominate discussion about the U.S.-Taiwan-China relationship, Dangerous Strait challenges common wisdom and approaches the political, economic, and strategic aspects of the cross-Strait situation anew. The result is a collection that provides fresh and much-needed insights into a complex problem and examines the ways in which catastrophe can be avoided.

    The essays examine a variety of issues, including the movement for independence and its place in Taiwanese domestic politics; the underlying weaknesses of democracy in Taiwan; and the significance of China and Taiwan's economic interdependence. In the security arena, contributors provide incisive critiques of Taiwan's incomplete military modernization; strains in U.S.-Taiwan relations and their differing interpretations of China's intentions; and the misguided inclination among some U.S. policymakers to abandon Washington's traditional policy of strategic ambiguity.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-50963-3
    Subjects: Political Science, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Contributors
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  6. CHAPTER 1: Dangerous Strait: INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-15)

    At the beginning of this new century, nowhere is the danger for Americans as great as in the Taiwan Strait where the potential for a war with China, a nuclear armed great power, could erupt out of miscalculation, misunderstanding, or accident. Skeptics might argue that other threats are more vola- tile or more certain—conflict in the Middle East, terrorism at home and abroad, clashes with angry and chaotic rogue or failed states. But although the United States risks losing lives and reputation in these encounters none but a collision with China would be as massive and devastating.

    War with China...

  7. CHAPTER TWO: The Unfinished Business of Taiwan’s Democratization
    (pp. 16-43)

    Most observers agree that Taiwan’s democratic transition was complete when, in spring 2000, Chen Shui-bian, the candidate of the island’s oldest opposition party, was elected president of the Republic of China on Taiwan. Chen’s inauguration marked a critical moment in the isla- nd’s political development: the first transfer of national governing authority to a representa- tive of a political party other than the long-time ruling party, the Kuomintang (KMT). Even as they celebrated the achievement of party alternation in Taiwan, however, political observers on and off the island saw profound challenges facing the new administration. As one of Chen’s top advisers said...

  8. CHAPTER THREE: Building a Taiwanese Republic: THE INDEPENDENCE MOVEMENT, 1945–PRESENT
    (pp. 44-69)

    The possibility of Taiwan’s formal and permanent independence from China is a source of international tensions in East Asia, the cause of Sino-American discord, and a heated issue in the island’s domestic politics. The Taiwanese independence movement, however, can take only partial credit for these developments.¹ To date, changes to the island’s relationship with China have resulted from conflicts having little to do with Taiwanese aspirations or loyalties: two Sino-Japanese wars, World War II, civil war between Communists and Nationalists, and the cold war.

    For more than a century, control of Taiwan has reflected the balance of power among Beijing,...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR: Lee Teng-hui and “Separatism”
    (pp. 70-92)

    Conventional wisdoms can sometimes be misleading. An idea is not true simply because the great majority of people accept it. A conclusion does not become established fact merely through constant repetition. Take, for example, the common view of Lee Teng-hui’s approach to Taiwan’s relationship with China. The conventional belief is that Lee was bent on permanently separating Taiwan from China, or, in the usual political shorthand, he promoted two Chinas or Taiwan independence. That conclusion might be true, but if it is, it is not simply because people—and particularly those in the Beijing government—say it is.Instead, we need...

    (pp. 93-130)
    T. J. CHENG

    China and taiwan are an uncommon dyad. In general, trade and investment are minimal and minimized between political rivals.¹ Yet, a dense economic nexus coexists with deeply entrenched political conflict across the Taiwan Strait. Although security relations are often strained and political détente remains elusive, cross-Strait economic interaction has been intensifying since the early 1990s. Moreover, the pattern of economic interaction in this uncommon dyad is utterly asymmetric. The weaker party (in terms of size, population, and military might), Taiwan, has become substantially more dependent on the stronger party, China, for export and investment opportunities. Furthermore,the weaker side is a...

  11. CHAPTER SIX: Taiwan’s Defense Reforms and Military Modernization Program: OBJECTIVES, ACHIEVEMENTS, AND OBSTACLES
    (pp. 131-161)

    Maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait is absolutely vital to the continued prosperity and security of the Asian region, as well as to stable relations between the People’s Republic of China and the United States. Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve this objective, given the instabilities resulting from Beijing’s steadfast opposition to the apparently relentless efforts of the Republic of China (hereafter referred to as the ROC or Taiwan) to achieve permanent separation from the mainland. The resulting political tensions have led to a complete collapse of the past common understanding between the two sides regarding...

    (pp. 162-185)

    Today, taiwan is one of the most dangerous flashpoints in the Asia-Pacific and the issue most likely to lead to conflict between the United States and China. In fact, for nearly five decades, Taiwan has been one of the central dilemmas in U.S.-China relations. Even during the 1970s and 1980s, when the United States and China cooperated to balance the threat posed by the Soviet Union, differences over Taiwan were among the most intractable problems in the relationship between Washington and Beijing.¹

    America’s unofficial relationship with the island, especially U.S.-Taiwan security cooperation, is peculiarly controversial and divisive for Washington and...

  13. CHAPTER EIGHT: “Strategic Ambiguity Or Strategic Clarity?”
    (pp. 186-212)

    Strategic ambiguity has been attacked as a dangerous and antiquated policy that no longer serves the national interest and must be replaced as quickly as possible with strategic clarity. The indictment of ambiguity has come from all parts of the U.S. political spectrum and has mounted over recent years, particularly since the mid 1990s and with the greatest practical effect since the election of George W. Bush. Of course, ambiguity has never been welcomed by either Taiwan or China and its demise would not be mourned by leaders who prefer to compete for U.S. support anyway. But, if ambiguity is...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 213-262)
  15. Index
    (pp. 263-272)