Breaking the China-Taiwan Impasse

By Donald S. Zagoria; Chris Fugarino | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3

Some Thoughts on Cross-Strait Relations

Alan D. Romberg


INTRODUCTION

Objectively speaking, cross-strait relations are far less tense in spring 2002 than they were two years ago, when Chen Shui-bian was elected by Taiwan's voters as president of the Republic of China. And they are less tense than they were during most of the five years before that, when Chen's predecessor, Lee Teng-hui, sought to push the envelope on Taiwan's sovereign, independent status. Despite occasional lapses, both Beijing and Taipei have clearly decided to cool the rhetoric, even as they maintain principle and harbor concerns about the other side's intentions.

It is apparent that Chen's May 2000 inaugural pledge not to pursue independence or other steps so greatly feared by the People's Republic of China (PRC) leadership in the run-up to the election has had an important role to play in this. So, too, have decisions in Beijing about the importance of constructive relations with the United States. That said, many on the mainland perceive a disturbing pattern of incremental steps toward separate status—or even independence—and continue to warn of the dangers of taking this too far.

For its part, the Taipei leadership argues that its policies fit within the parameters of what Beijing labels as acceptable localism and should not be viewed as creeping independence or a direct challenge to the PRC over the question of one China. Still, Chen Shui-bian and virtually all other major political leaders in Taiwan take the position that the Republic of China is a sovereign, independent country that, while constitutionally encompassing all of the mainland, has operational jurisdiction limited to Taiwan, the Penghus, and the offshore

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