The Taiwan That Can Say No Taiwan’s External and Cross-Strait Relations Since 1995
The past decade has seen vibrant development in Taiwan’s democratization process—direct presidential elections have been held regularly since 1996, and in 2000 there was a change of the ruling party, the first time in more than half a century since the nationalist government retreated to the island. An attendant occurrence on the island was the emergence of two competing Taiwanese identities—the native Taiwanese versus the status quo Taiwanese identities—that have contradicting views on cross-Strait relations but share a similar conception of the island as a de facto sovereignty. The democratic mechanism allowed and brought the struggles between the two identities into the policy-making process, and, unprecedentedly, Taiwan’s domestic politics has dictated the island’s foreign policy as well as its interactions with China in the last ten years. Public resentment at international isolation compelled the Taiwanese government to strive for diplomatic breakthrough while in the cross-Strait relationship China was forced to respond passively to Taiwan’s initiatives, which were generally the result of developments in the island’s domestic politics. To rein in the wild card that Taiwan had become, Beijing turned to Washington—Taipei’s only ally—for cooperation in managing the hardly unusual dire situation in the Taiwan Strait.
KeywordsDemocratic Progressive Party Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Taiwan Issue Taiwan Independence Strait Exchange Foundation
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