Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts The U.S. Asia Rebalancing and the Taiwan Strait Rapprochement

The U.S. Asia Rebalancing and the Taiwan Strait Rapprochement


A historic rapprochement is transforming the Taiwan Strait, which until recently had been considered a “flashpoint” in Asia that could embroil two nuclear powers. This détente occurs amidst a momentous power transition in the Asia-Pacific. Many see the U.S. “Pacific Pivot” as a response to China’s recent assertive policies, the shifting power balance caused by the 2008 global financial crisis, and the realization that Asia holds the key to the economic and security futures of the United States. And yet the Obama Administration’s official statements on the pivot policy were nearly silent on Taiwan. What explains the near official silence on the role of Taiwan in the U.S. pivot policy? This article examines three hypotheses: (1) “The Lost Cause” thesis (i.e., Pivot without Taiwan), (2) “The Fate Undetermined” thesis (i.e., Pivot, then Taiwan), and (3) “The Tacit Alliance” thesis (i.e., Pivot with Taiwan, in deed if not in word) against available evidence and assesses the positive and negative implications of the evolving cross-strait relations for the U.S. pivot to Asia, as well as the U.S. policy’s impact on cross-strait relations.

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