Table of Contents

Handbook of US–China Relations

Handbook of US–China Relations

Edited by Andrew T.H. Tan

This Handbook addresses the key questions surrounding US–China relations: what are the historical and contemporary contexts that underpin this complex relationship? How has the strategic rivalry between the two evolved? What are the key flashpoints in their relationship? What are the key security issues between the two powers? The international contributors explore the historical, political, economic, military, and international and regional spheres of the US–China relationship. The topics they discuss include human rights, Chinese public perception of the United States, US–China strategic rivalry, China’s defence build-up and cyber war.

Chapter 15: Taiwan in US–China relations

Andrew T. H. Tan

Subjects: asian studies, asian politics and policy, politics and public policy, asian politics, international politics, international relations


Taiwan has been a key issue in US–China relations since the end of World War II and, as the Taiwan Strait crisis in 1995–96 demonstrated, it could yet lead to open conflict between the two great powers. For China, resolving the Taiwan issue through reunification with the Mainland is a primary political objective on account of the strong and emotive nationalist sentiments surrounding the issue in China. However, Taiwan has been the benefactor of fortuitous strategic developments in Asia, which has led the United States to continue to protect it from China. Given the context of China’s rise and challenge to the US position in Asia, it is in the United States’ interest to continue the policy of strategic ambiguity embodied in the Taiwan Relations Act, which has helped to maintain the status quo in the Taiwan Strait. Given the intensifying strategic rivalry between the United States and China in recent times, it is also increasingly unlikely that the United States would fail to intervene should China use force, as this would undermine the US position in Asia. While Taiwan is ultimately expendable should strategic circumstances change, for the time being, it remains a key issue in US–China relations and the challenge is maintaining the status quo and thus peace.

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