With Tsai's coming to power several factors portended continuity in the strong U.S.-Taiwan relationship that she inherited. Washington welcomed Tsai's approach of pledging to maintain the status quo in cross-Strait ties. In U.S. policy on cross-Strait issues, the "clarity of strategic ambiguity" endures: Washington assesses which side is to blame for any deterioration in cross-Strait relations, and favors, at least at the margin, the other party. With Tsai, Washington sees Beijing as primarily at fault, in that Washington perceives Tsai as having gone as far as she can (given political constraints), and Beijing as being too demanding. Although Trump administration policies and actions—specific ones concerning Taiwan and broader ones with implications for U.S.-Taiwan relations—and an approach to foreign policy characterized by volatility, a transactional mindset, and institutional fragmentation introduced significant uncertainty, persisting features of U.S. policy toward Taiwan and cross-Strait issues limit the likelihood of change in Washington's approach to relations with Taiwan: the durability of strategic ambiguity, the classic alliance dilemma of abandonment versus entrapment, the persistence of Realist, interest-based analysis that weighs against "abandoning Taiwan" during a long period of more adversarial U.S.-China relations, the likely durability of the "values" strain in U.S. foreign policy (despite Trump), the entrenched nature of the Three Communiqués and the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), a substantial congressional role in the stewardship of U.S.-Taiwan relations, and the tendency of U.S. policy on Taiwan and cross-Strait issues to be primarily reactive to choices made in Beijing and Taipei.


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pp. 13-60
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