The Future of China-Taiwan Relations
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: Brookings Institution Press
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Table of Contents
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May 20, 2008, was a brilliant day in Taipei, Taiwan’s capital city. A cold front had blown away the clouds and pollution, and the sky was crystal clear. Fine weather was uncommon at that time of year in northern Taiwan, but it fit the political calendar well. For May 20 was the day that Ma Ying-jeou took office as the president of the Republic of China after winning a decisive victory in the election. His party, the Kuomintang (KMT), thus resumed control...
2. Historical and Political Context
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The story of Taiwan’s historical development and relationship with China is a complicated tale, one that has been told before. Others have provided their own fine treatments, and I offered mine in Untying the Knot.1 The discussion that follows lightly covers what transpired in cross-Strait relations before 1988 and then summarizes in more detail what happened in the three...
3. Setting the Analytical Stage
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After Ma Ying-jeou’s inauguration as Taiwan’s president in May 2008, Taipei and Beijing were able to reverse the downward spiral of the previous fifteen years and put their relations on a more normal footing. This chapter and the two that follow present an analytical assessment of what happened and what did not happen during Ma’s first term and what that means. The question to be addressed is how far the upward spiral has spun and how much...
4. Economic Stabilization
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In the summer of 2008, Taiwan and China began the task of stabilizing their relationship through negotiations. Their focus on the economic sphere made eminently good sense. The two sides understood that success was more likely if they tackled easy issues first and difficult ones later. Economic issues had their own complexity, to be sure, but mutually satisfactory business...
5. Political and Security Stabilization
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During Ma Ying-jeou’s first term, China and Taiwan made significant progress in normalizing and liberalizing their economic ties and, more broadly, in reducing the mutual fear that had previously clouded their relations. They did not complete the liberalization agenda by any means, but a lot was accomplished nonetheless. And during the 2012 elections, when Ma’s policies and...
6. The 2012 Transitions and Scenarios for the Future
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The Taiwan elections of January 2012 demonstrated the impact of politics on China policy. Any election is a contest in at least three different arenas: the first concerns the character and reputation of the contenders; the second, the relative ability of the competing parties to mobilize their loyal voters; the third, how voters, particularly swing voters, rank various issues. Taiwan’s elections...
7. The Dynamics of Power Asymmetry
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The idea that China might somehow use its power to get other relatively weaker actors to do what they previously were unwilling to do is eminently plausible. It is based on an underlying premise of political philosophy: influence is a function of power. It also informs the growing literature on the impact of a stronger China on the international system.1 So, it is reasonable to hypothesize that should Beijing grow frustrated with endless cross-Strait...
8. What Taiwan Might Do to Help Itself
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It is clearly in Taiwan’s interest to keep cross-Strait relations in the paradigm of mutual persuasion and out of the paradigm of power asymmetry. One way of doing so is to consolidate the gains of Ma’s first term and seize opportunities where they exist; that will help foster the PRC’s confidence that someday it will achieve its fundamental objective (“Keep hope alive,” to quote Jesse Jackson). But more seems to be needed in order to strengthen...
9. What China Might Do
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Staying within the paradigm of mutual persuasion is certainly good for Taiwan, because it means that whatever choices it makes about the medium- and long-term future will be voluntary. It is also good for the United States, because it will avoid having to decide what to do in complex circumstances in which Taipei faces Chinese pressure, a scenario that is technically...
10. Policy Implications for the United States
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The United States has been an integral element of the Taiwan Strait equation from the time that North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950. For the next two decades, American military power and a mutual defense treaty with Taiwan deterred any PRC attempt at a takeover. Through economic assistance and policy guidance, Washington facilitated Taiwan’s rapid economic growth and emergence as a middle-class society. U.S. diplomacy protected...
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It was rainy in Taipei on May 20, 2012, the day that Ma Ying-jeou was sworn in for a second term as Taiwan’s president. It was typical weather for northern Taiwan in late spring and a sharp contrast to the sparkling blue skies of four years before. As was the weather, Taiwan politics was reverting to the norm. In 2008, Ma won an easy victory because voters were dissatisfied with the outcome of Chen Shui-bian’s presidency. In 2012, the election was a referendum on Ma’s policies....
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Brooks Institution Personnel and Back Cover
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Page Count: 450
Publication Year: 2012