Sunday, May 8, 2011

Week 7 Reading Responses

Hi Class,

We are winding down with the discussion sessions of the class, so you should all be thinking about which topic you want to present on in Week 10. The presentations will be short. Also, if you have already attended a China-related campus event, be sure you have sent your write-up to me.

This week, we will be looking into U.S.-China-Taiwan relations more in depth. The readings are below. As always, post your reaction before class.

Roberge, Michael, Youkyung Lee. "Backgrounder: China-Taiwan Relations" (Council on Foreign Relations), August 11, 2009.

Wang, Yuan-kang. "China's Growing Strength, Taiwan's Diminishing Options," (Brookings), November 2010.

The Taiwan Relations Act,” (U.S. Congress), April 10, 1979.

Anti-Secession Law” (National People's Congress), March 14, 2005.


  1. Whether or not the U.S.'s original support of Taiwan vis-a-vis China was ill-considered, this is one issue where it seems like the U.S. has a duty to stick to its guns. It seems like the best course of action is to demonstrate a firm U.S. commitment that Taiwan not be absorbed into China without the consent of its population. That said, it seems like the best bet is to defer the moment of decision as long as possible. Taiwan may eventually find it economically and culturally advantageous to rejoin the mainland, or the gradual democratization of Chinese politics may lead China to be less fixated on Taiwan.

  2. Taiwan and Mainland China share the same cultural roots. It is fair to say that the majority of the people of Taiwan acknowledge Mainland China as part of their history and heritage. Without Cultural Revolution, Taiwan preserved many traditions and cultural aspects that were long lost in Mainland China. The vast popularity of Taiwan produced TV series and pop music in Mainland China also demonstrates the cultural ties between the two entities. Taiwan experienced a relatively authoritarian period shortly after Kuomintang retreated to the island, but transitioned to a democracy as manufacturing flourished and economy developed. It is reasonable to contemplate that Mainland China will become more democratic and converge to Taiwan and the rest of the developed world in its political and legal systems as its economic growth continues.

    My hope is that as communication in trade, transportation and education becomes more frequent, people on the two sides of the straits would understand each other better, and realize that in the context of global competition for cultural and economic superiority, Taiwan and Mainland China are more like brothers than enemies.

  3. As stated in today's reading, the relationship between China and Taiwan is tied from various aspects, including economy, culture, business, etc. Most importantly, I do not see that Taiwan would want to put itself in a dangerous position by taking more support from US than it should, when China could easily launch thousands of missile right into its heart. At the same time, I do not think US would want Taiwan reunite with Mainland either for the cost of losing a stable base right next to the south of China.

    This status quo here is definitely tricky. From the friendly approaching of President Ma, I see the intension for Taiwan to keep a close relationship with China and rely on the economic power of China, while still seeking for its "independence" through being allied with US. It is not in Taiwan's interest to break with either China or US, and the best choice for them might be just keep this situation as long as possible unless China makes a final decision in taking Taiwan back through violence, which, I would predict, will hardly happen in years.

  4. As much as China would suggest otherwise, I think Taiwan's unification with China would be unfeasible considering the divergence in politics, interests, etc. At this point, I think the status quo is the best possible system for the two nations. Both benefit economically and culturally, without having to acknowledge the "illegitimate" political status of each other. I doubt that China would instigate a military attack on Taiwan, at least not all of a sudden, because of the mutual advantages. From the U.S. perspective as well, maintaining the status quo involves the least trouble. However, I worry about the instability of the current relationship, since a change in leadership on either side could radically shift the balance. If Taiwan were to elect another independence-oriented president, or if a hardline party leader came to power in China, cross-strait relations would rapidly deteriorate and possibly devolve into the use of force.

  5. Although the status quo may be the best solution for Taiwan and the U.S. for the foreseeable future, as China's economic and military power continue to grow, it seems like this will become increasingly difficult to maintain. At some point, it doesn't seem practical for the U.S. to fully guarantee Taiwan's security given the risk of war with mainland China (which could have devastating consequences for the U.S. and the world). Perhaps the U.S. should consider what major concessions it could eventually secure from China in exchange for halting weapons sales and other support for Taiwan, and potentially even support a phased unification of mainland China and Taiwan.

  6. Taiwan seems to be in a world of trouble to me. With China's world presence growing so quickly and emphatically, countries will soon have no choice but to befriend the nation. Clearly, some compromises will need to be made, but I just don't see China ever conceding Taiwan. They would give up so much else before it got to that point. If China wont give them up without war, and with public international opinion being forced to side with (or at least not complain about) China's opinion, it doesn't seem that there's much left for Taiwan to do. It seems to me that their goal should simply be to maintain the current balance.

  7. China's stance on China-Taiwan relation is firm: Taiwan is part of China. I agree with what tong mentioned in her reading response that people from Mainland China and Taiwan share similar cultural and historical background.I do not have much background knowledge on the subject, but from what I do know, the tension on China-Taiwan relations has mitigated ever since Ma Yingjiu became the president of Taiwan. As mentioned in the first reading, there has been stronger economic ties, more frequent cultural and educational exchanges. From a perspective of a Chinese teenager, though I do not think that I have background knowledge to predict the future, I do believe that both side will have a better and more comprehensive understanding of each other through more positive face to face interactions.