East Asia

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 1–20 | Cite as

Taiwan: An Internal Affair! How China’s Domestic Politics and Foreign Policy Interact on the Taiwan Issue?

  • Jean-Pierre CabestanEmail author


Taiwan may be an internal affair but the domestic public opinion is not invited to participate very much in a debate and a decision-making process that have remained confined to the Chinese Communist Party and the military top leadership and, on purpose, involves a very small number of officials and experts. Conservative and nationalist forces do constrain Beijing’s Taiwan policy. And some leaders are tempted to use the Taiwan issue for unrelated domestic or foreign policy purpose. Nevertheless, what is striking is the potential for flexibility in China’s Taiwan policy. While Chinese local governments and companies’ increasing interests in business-as-usual in the Strait and the unbearable cost of any armed conflict tend to narrow the government’s options, concentration of power and the efficiency of the propaganda machine allow it to rather smoothly manage, in particular vis-à-vis the elites’ conservative opinion group as well as its own public opinion, this flexibility.


China Decision-making Foreign policy People’s Liberation Army Taiwan United States 



This is the revised version of a paper prepared for the Conference “Foreign-Domestic Linkages in China’s International Behaviour”, University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, 24–25 April 2008.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Government and International StudiesHong Kong Baptist UniversityHong KongHong Kong

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