Academic journal article Military Review

Face Off: China, the United States, and Taiwan's Democratization

Academic journal article Military Review

Face Off: China, the United States, and Taiwan's Democratization

Article excerpt

FACE OFF: China, the United States, and Taiwan's Democratization by John W. Garver. 206 pages. University of Washington Press, Seattle, WA. 1997. $18.95.

Face Off is one of the first books to study the significance of the March 1996 confrontation between the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the United States. The book provides a compelling behind-the-scenes account of China's domestic politics and foreign policy decisions leading up to the crisis in the Taiwan Strait.

John W. Garver has studied China for over 30 years. He spent five months in Beijing in 1995 and was in Taiwan during the People's Liberation Army's (PLA's) 1996 exercises intended to influence Taiwan's presidential elections. Throughout his well-written analysis, Garver interweaves the message that Taiwan's democratization has increased the pressure on the precarious balance of East Asia's stability and raised the stakes in the developing relationship between China and the United States. Amplifying this concern is the ongoing tug of war in the United States between its obligations under the Taiwan Relations Act, support for "One China" and hopes for peaceful resolution of the Taiwan issue.

Garver supports his thesis by examining Beijing's pattern of growing impatience with Taiwan, the historical basis of US support for Taiwan and misperceptions within the PRC and United States during the crisis. He also provides ample details of Taiwan's internal political process and its impact on cross-Strait relations.

What is most striking about this book is its insight into the power politics influencing PLA and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership. As China struggles to come to terms with its move toward a market-based economy, Taiwan's determination to maintain its freedom and economic power serves as a lightning rod for debate between the PLA and the CCP. …

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