Strait Talk: United States-Taiwan Relations and the Crisis with China

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Overview

Relations among the United States, Taiwan, and China challenge policymakers, international relations specialists, and a concerned public to examine their assumptions about security, sovereignty, and peace. Only a Taiwan Straits conflict could plunge Americans into war with a nuclear-armed great power. In a timely and deeply informed book, Nancy Bernkopf Tucker traces the thorny relationship between the United States and Taiwan as both watch China’s power grow.

Although Taiwan–U.S. security has been intertwined since the 1950s, neither Taipei nor Washington ever fully embraced the other. Differences in priorities and perspectives repeatedly raised questions about the wisdom of the alignment. Tucker discusses the nature of U.S. commitments to Taiwan; the intricacies of policy decisions; the intentions of critical actors; the impact of Taiwan’s democratization; the role of lobbying; and the accelerating difficulty of balancing Taiwan against China. In particular, she examines the destructive mistrust that undermines U.S. cooperation with Taiwan, stymieing efforts to resolve cross-Strait tensions.

Strait Talk offers valuable historical context for understanding U.S.–Taiwan ties and is essential reading for anyone interested in international relations and security issues today.

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Editorial Reviews

Foreign Affairs

Although Washington's Taiwan policy has been outwardly clear and consistent since 1972—defined by the so-called communiqué framework and the Taiwan Relations Act—Tucker shows that the actual negotiation record from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush was rife with confusion and mistrust. She focuses on the less-studied Washington-Taipei leg of the Beijing-Washington-Taipei triangle, tracing the interaction of policies and personalities with a level of detail made possible by extensive interviews and archival research and with a clarity of judgment made possible by a long familiarity with most of the protagonists. Tucker acknowledges that U.S. grand strategy during this time enjoyed some successes: China became a counterweight to the Soviet Union, and Taiwan survived. But she argues that the United States repeatedly yielded more to China than it had to, and the shoddy way it treated Taiwan created a legacy of mistrust not only in Taipei but also among allies throughout the region.
— Andrew J. Nathan

Shelley Rigger
An important work that will make a strong impact and be widely read. Tucker argues that relations between the U.S. and Taiwan, and between the U.S. and China, are difficult today because successive American administrations knowingly created expectations in Taipei and Beijing that could not be met. She concludes that real progress in these relationships will require the United States to build trust. This book should provoke introspection in Washington, and will help readers everywhere understand this complex relationship.
Alan M. Wachman
A signal contribution to an understanding of the desperately complex diplomatic history of Taiwan and the United States, this will become the 'go-to' book on the cross-Taiwan Strait problem.
J. Stapleton Roy
For nearly six decades, Taiwan has bedeviled U.S. foreign policy in East Asia, complicated the U.S. relationship with the People's Republic of China, and generated domestic passions of unusual intensity. Tucker provides a detailed and fascinating look at the policies and people, the mistakes and triumphs that have shaped U.S. relations with Taiwan. Readers will emerge with a far better appreciation of the reasons why she points to confrontation in the Taiwan Strait as 'the single most dangerous challenge for the United States in the world.'
Foreign Affairs - Andrew J. Nathan
Although Washington's Taiwan policy has been outwardly clear and consistent since 1972--defined by the so-called communiqué framework and the Taiwan Relations Act--Tucker shows that the actual negotiation record from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush was rife with confusion and mistrust. She focuses on the less-studied Washington-Taipei leg of the Beijing-Washington-Taipei triangle, tracing the interaction of policies and personalities with a level of detail made possible by extensive interviews and archival research and with a clarity of judgment made possible by a long familiarity with most of the protagonists. Tucker acknowledges that U.S. grand strategy during this time enjoyed some successes: China became a counterweight to the Soviet Union, and Taiwan survived. But she argues that the United States repeatedly yielded more to China than it had to, and the shoddy way it treated Taiwan created a legacy of mistrust not only in Taipei but also among allies throughout the region.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674060524
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 3/31/2011
  • Pages: 404
  • Sales rank: 505,517
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Nancy Bernkopf Tucker was Professor of History at Georgetown University and at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.
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Table of Contents

  • Contents

  • Illustrations
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: Landscape and Memory
  • In the Context of the Cold War

  1. The Origins of Strategic Ambiguity

    Détente

  2. Taiwan Expendable?
  3. Survival

    Ford’s Tribulations

  4. Collapse and Reprieve

    Moral Imperatives; Military Challenges

  5. Derecognition
  6. Final Act
  7. The Taiwan Relations Act

    Recognizing Your Friends and Enemies

  8. The Reagan Difference
  9. American Assurances

    The End of the Cold War

  10. Shifting Ground

    Search for a New World Order

  11. Change and Continuity
  12. Taiwan Strait Crisis
  13. Setting the Record Straight

    War against Terrorism

  14. The Influence of Democracy

  • Conclusion: The Uses of Adversity
  • Abbreviations
  • Notes
  • Interviews
  • Bibliography
  • Index

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