American policy towards the Taiwan strait and the security dilemma

Ching Ming Lin, Chih Chieh Chou, Cheng Chi Kuang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Since 1979, American policy has sought to balance Washington’s improved relations with Beijing with its interest in protecting Taiwan from China’s military invasion. This involves striking a complicated balance between American agreements with Beijing under the three Sino-U.S. Joint Communiques and American obligations to Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act. With proper policies, Taipei can maintain good relations with Washington and Beijing at the same time. Even so, givens all of the sensitive and imponderable issues, there could be a war. Employing the theory of dilemma security, this paper first analyzes and evaluates the prospects that lie behind repeated American statements about the importance of maintaining peace as well as the American policy of arms sales in the face of China’s accelerating military build-up against Taiwan. China perceives tendencies on the island as separatist and enhances its military capabilities in response. Consequently, any further military modernization or build-up by one side is likely to provoke a military response by the other, there is a vicious circle in play here. Secondly, the security dilemma should be measured more broadly and some factors such as nationalism need to be taken into account as well. It is clear that the dynamics of the security dilemma in the Taiwan Strait are uniquely complex. Finally, this paper gives some suggestions that will help gain a better understanding of the means and paths to alleviating and eliminating the security dilemma across the Taiwan Strait.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-194
Number of pages54
JournalTamkang Journal of International Affairs
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jul 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Education
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Strategy and Management


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