No nation's future is more fraught with uncertainty than Taiwan's. Its destiny is bound up with rapidly changing social, economic, and political conditions, internal and external--the biggest variable in the latter category being the People's Republic of China, which claims Taiwan as its territory and vows to recover it. At times, Beijing threatens to use military force to resolve the "Taiwan issue" (which, given various of its actions, must be taken seriously); on other occasions, however, it talks about a "Greater China" federation or some other system, suggesting Taiwan might "link up" with China but keep its sovereignty or, it hopes, abandon it willingly. The United States' role will likely be even more important than Beijing's. If Beijing decides to invade Taiwan and the United States does not intervene, Taiwan will not survive. If the United States intervenes on Taiwan's side, it will. U.S. policy will affect Taiwan's fate in other ways. The international community will help decide the "Taiwan issue," but its role will probably be secondary to Beijing's and Washington's.
Taiwan has been separate and has possessed an identity distinct from China for fifty years. For a number of years, Taipei, representing the Republic of China, claimed legal jurisdiction over all of China, saying that the government in Beijing was illegitimate. But that is now history. And, whereas Taipei still formally and officially espouses a one-China policy, meaning that it considers Taiwan part of China, it seems to mean this less and less (at least in the sense of quick and complete reunification), and, over time, Taiwan or the Republic of China (or whatever future name is adopted) has been seen increasingly, both by Taiwan's population and the international community, to possess sovereignty. Clearly it has the qualifications, with minimum caveats, to be a nation-state.
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Publication information: Book title: Taiwan:Nation-State or Province?. Edition: 3rd. Contributors: John F. Copper - Author. Publisher: Westview Press. Place of publication: Boulder, CO. Publication year: 1999. Page number: 191.
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