Contending notions of the cross-strait status quo in Taiwan and across the strait: Impacts on U.S.-Taiwan relations

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This article analyzes Taiwan’s cross-Strait policy and its impacts on U.S.-Taiwan relations. It specifically discusses the contending notions of cross-Strait status quo following Taiwan’s presidential election of 2016. This article finds first that most Taiwanese people support peaceful status quo across the Strait while either opposing or being suspicious of unification in the future. Moreover, they do not pay equal attention to the political foundation of the status quo. Second, the convergence among DPP, KMT, Beijing, and Washington over cross-Strait relations lies in the maintenance of the status quo. However, while both KMT and Beijing regard the “1992 Consensus” and “one China principle” as preconditions for sustaining it, the Tsai administration rejects those terms. This divergence has led to a deadlock in cross-Strait relations. Third, for Washington, the bottom line remains as opposing any unilateral changes of cross-Strait status quo by either side. Tsai’s status quo discourse without “1992 Consensus” continues to satisfy this precondition, and the Trump administration has strengthened its political and military links with Taiwan. Fourth, the relief of cross-Strait deadlock might depend on the possibility of Washington and Beijing achieving mutual understanding on a new definition of the status quo, for instance, maintaining peace across the Strait without touching upon the sovereignty issue. Fifth, Tsai has to cope with a dilemma regarding her status quo policy: how to continue to appeal to DPP’s cross-Strait notion with a strong proindependence component, while navigating the realities of Taiwan’s vulnerability vis-a-vis Beijing and continuing to gain Washington’s support. Finally, Taiwan cannot just rely on Washington’s good will. Taiwan should find a way to define its political interests, positions, and strategies so as to strengthen U.S.-Taiwan relations and maintain the balance of U.S.-China-Taiwan relations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-148
Number of pages28
JournalChina Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Aug 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies


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