This article approaches the puzzle of whether and to what degree Taiwan matters to the United States. The deteriorating of cross-Strait relations since 2016 has made people more concerned about the sustainability of the status quo. For the Chinese mainland, the danger is the possible collapse of U.S. one-China policy—a key pillar of the U.S.-China diplomatic architecture; for Taiwan, the nightmare is that the businessman-turned-president might sell out the island for economic gains from the mainland. Trump's aversion toward liberal institutionalism and his advocacy of economic nationalism have revived the specter of Taiwan abandonment, which have occurred occasionally in U.S. foreign policy thinking since the late 1940s. To be sure, "abandoning Taiwan" as well as the Cold War mind-set of playing wildly the "Taiwan card" are far from the mainstream view in U.S. policy circles today, which favors maintaining the status quo. Still, such heterodox arguments have made salient the fundamental issue of whether Taiwan is a strategic liability or a strategic asset for the United States. Which view prevails matters a great deal for the state of U.S.-China relations and whether that relationship will be more cooperative or confrontational in the years to come.


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pp. 177-206
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