Cover: Taiwan on a Tightrope

Taiwan on a Tightrope

by Evan Feigenbaum

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Abstract

This research brief describes work documented in Change in Taiwan and Potential Adversity in the Strait (MR-558-1-OSD).

Excerpt: The outraged Chinese reaction to the visit of Taiwan's president to his alma mater in the United States surprised many in the West. The Chinese viewed the trip as a deliberate provocation by Taiwan. Why would Beijing regard such an act as provocative? What are the likely outcomes? What are the implications for U.S. policy? In Change in Taiwan and Potential Adversity in the Strait, National Defense Research Institute researcher Evan Feigenbaum attempts to answer these questions. He argues that powerful domestic changes have driven Taiwanese leaders to walk a narrow and perilous path between confrontation and conciliation with China. In the charged environment that exists between the two countries, mistakes, miscalculations, or misunderstandings could easily precipitate conflict. Thus, it is crucial to understand these changes and what they imply for U.S. policy. Most compelling is the need for Washington to speak with one voice and ensure that the Taiwanese understand that the only acceptable resolution of their status is one that is mutually agreeable to both Taipei and Beijing.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation research brief series. RAND research briefs present policy-oriented summaries of individual published, peer-reviewed documents or of a body of published work.

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