Ever since the US ended diplomatic relations with the Republic of China (ROC) and recognized the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1979, a move followed by the passage of the US’ Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) in April that year, Washington’s policy on Taiwan has consistently been that its future cannot be determined through the use of force by China.
The diplomatic relationship with Beijing, the TRA reads, “rests upon the expectation that the future of Taiwan will be determined by peaceful means [and that] any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means, including by boycotts or embargoes” would be “of grave concern” to the US.
This remains Washington’s official line on the Taiwan Strait, which was reinforced by the fifth article of the “Six Assurances” to Taiwan issued in July 1982, stating: “The United States would not alter its position about the sovereignty of Taiwan … that the question was one to be decided peacefully.”
Attendant to this formulation has been Washington’s reliance on ambiguity through the so-called “status quo,” which on the one hand is contingent on Beijing not using force against Taiwan, and on the other on Taipei refraining from doing anything — adopting a new Constitution, moving toward de jure independence, and so on — that would undermine that stability.
For three decades, this strategy appears to have been wise, for aside from the Missile Crisis of 1995 and 1996 and occasional violations of Taiwanese airspace by Chinese military aircraft, the Taiwan Strait has not descended into war and both sides remain de facto separate entities.
This article, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.