The Struggle across the Taiwan Strait

The Struggle across the Taiwan Strait

The Divided China Problem

Authors: Ramon H. Myers, Jialin Zhang
ISBN: 978-0-8179-4692-0
Publication Date: 7/17/2006
Pages: 168

Divided China's Continuing Struggle

In 1949, China divided into two regimes, with the People's Republic of China controlling the mainland and Taiwan, or the Republic of China, controlling a group of offshore islands. The Struggle across the Taiwan Strait describes how, for more than half a century, these competing regimes have struggled to unify China—until the "political earthquake" of Taiwan's 2000 election raised the stakes to a new and more dangerous level.

The authors detail the two regimes' move toward détente, and its eventual collapse in the 1990s, and analyze the aftermath of Taiwan's 2000 and 2004 elections. And they explain how the "Taiwan nationalism" promoted by the current regime—calling for Taiwan's independence from China—has not only intensified the conflict between the regimes but locked both sides into a new contest that has increased the probability of war rather than peace.

Whether negotiations on the divided China issue can occur any time soon, the authors conclude, depends on how the ideological and political markets influence Taiwan and mainland China's political life and beliefs. If Taiwan nationalism grows, with a new generation educated to downgrade the importance of their Chinese identity, tensions would likely nurture separatism from China—and war would be inevitable. Whatever Taiwan's people decide to do, the issue will continue to be a formidable problem for the leaders of both sides.

Ramon H. Myers is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Jialin Zhang is a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution.


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Jialin Zhang

A visiting scholar at the Hoover Institution in 1995–1996, Jialin Zhang specializes in international economics, China's economic reforms, and Sino-American trade relations. He resides in Shanghai, China, and is a senior fellow of the Shanghai Institute for International Studies as well as director of the board, Council of Policy and Strategy in Shanghai. He is the author of another Hoover Institution essay titled China's Response to the Downfall of Communism in Eastern Europe and Soviet Union (1994), as well as "Guiding Chinas Market Economy" in Current History (September 1994).




Ramon H. Myers

Ramon H. Myers, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, is curator of the East Asian archives. He received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Washington.

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