The TRA, Cross-Strait Relations, and Sino-U.S. Relations: Searching for Cross-Strait Stability

  • Richard W. Hu


Thirty years ago, the TRA was enacted by the U.S. Congress to create legal bases and arrangements to govern American economic, cultural, and military relations with Taiwan, following the Carter administration’s decision to switch diplomatic ties from Taipei to Beijing. Motivated by Congress’s unhappiness to cede Taiwan policy to the White House, the TRA was intended to reassert a congressional role in U.S. policy toward Taiwan and cross-Strait relations. Therefore, the TRA not only deals with legal, technical, and logistical issues of how to maintain “unofficial” ties with Taiwan after Washington’s established formal diplomatic relationship with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1979, but also serves as a political statement of intent, expressed in the form of congressional legislation, which the United States vests strong interests in its future relations with Taiwan. For that purpose, the TRA also justifies continued arms sales to Taiwan and requires consultations between the executive branch and Congress to determine an appropriate response in the event that Taiwan’s security is jeopardized. In this regard, the TRA was an unprecedented document, which has stirred up political controversy not only between the United States and China, but also in American domestic politics.


Chinese Leader China Policy Peaceful Resolution Taiwan Issue Taiwan Independence 
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    Michael Swaine’s “Taiwan Relations Act: the Next Twenty-Five Years,” Hearing before the Committee on International Relations, House of Representatives, 108th Congress, 2nd Session, April 21, 2004.Google Scholar

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© Cheng-yi Lin and Denny Roy 2011

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  • Richard W. Hu

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