China's Dilemma: The Taiwan Issue

China's Dilemma: The Taiwan Issue

China's Dilemma: The Taiwan Issue

China's Dilemma: The Taiwan Issue


"China's Dilemma" is the first major study of the web of international relations between the US, China, and Taiwan. China has long hesitated integration with its island neighbor, preferring instead to focus on internal modernization and reform. Taiwan, on the other hand, has forced the issue, endlessly reworking and restating its policy towards China. The US has, for Taiwan, been used as a bargaining chip in its dealings with China, knowing how important a good relationship between the two super-states is to China. Sheng Lijun's study examines how the status of Taiwan has been one of the most complex and politically loaded issues facing China since the Cold War.


The rise of China is an important phenomenon in post-Cold War international relations and one which has brought about to many contending views. Not since China—United States rapprochement in the early seventies and China's reform policy which opened the country up to the outside world in the late seventies, has China created such academic interest.

China's foreign policy has long been influenced by its relations with the Soviet Union and the United States. And in China—United States relations, the Taiwan issue has always been a crucial factor. China's Taiwan policy is very sensitive to the U.S. stance on this key issue. Its importance to China—United States relations as well as to stability in East Asia was demonstrated by the events that followed Lee Teng-hui's “private” visit to Cornell University in the United States in June 1995 and his announcement of “special state-to-state relations” with China in July 1999.

The Taiwan issue has never been confined to the Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Strait as the United States has always had a role to play. And its influence is likely to continue. A considerable part of this book is therefore devoted to an examination of how China—United States relations have affected the Taiwan issue.

China has never treated the Taiwan issue in isolation: it is integral to its overall strategy. Its displeasure with Taiwan since 1995 has not merely been because of Taiwan's persistent drift away from reunification, but also because of China's view that Taiwan is helping the United States to contain it and undermine its overall strategy for the next century. This strategy is to keep a low profile in international affairs and concentrate on domestic modernization for the time being. The “one country two systems” formula which China intends for Taiwan is more to prevent Taiwan's further drift towards independence than to bring about immediate reunification. Reunification before conditions are ripe would create more problems for China.

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