Growing Cross-Strait Economic Integration

Long before the September 11 terrorist attacks, the stormy cross-Strait relationship between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China on Taiwan (ROC) constituted one of the world’s more troublesome hot spots. Provocative Chinese missile tests in 1995–96—an effort to intimidate Taiwan in response to ROC President Lee Teng-hui’s visit to the United States to attend his class reunion at Cornell University—underscored the ongoing failure of the two governments to reach agreement about the sovereignty and future of Taiwan. In 1999, another crisis erupted when Lee characterized the linkage between Taipei and Beijing as “special state-to-state relations” which, the PRC claimed, verged upon proclaiming Taiwan’s independence from China. Finally, the victory of one-time Taiwan independence advocate Chen Shui-bian in Taiwan’s 2000 presidential election set off fears that another crisis was imminent; yet Chen’s generally conciliatory policy toward China soon returned cross-Strait relations to a seemingly stable, albeit tense, “cold peace.”

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