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Taiwan's Deteriorating Strategic Position and Cross-Strait Relations

Author: Scott A. Snyder, Senior Fellow for Korea Studies and Director of the Program on U.S.-Korea Policy
May 11, 2009


During its first year in office, the Ma Ying-jeou administration has brought greater stability to the cross-strait relationship and has sought to introduce greater predictability to relations between Taipei and Beijing (and by extension to U.S.-Taiwan relations). From April 24-26, representatives from Taiwan and the PRC met in Nanjing and signed three agreements in the effort to strengthen economic cooperation across the strait. The renewed dialogue--the Nanjing meeting was the third at that level since Ma assumed office--has introduced greater stability to cross-strait relations for the time being, but the renewal of cross-strait dialogue has thus far done little to shore up Taiwan's deteriorating long-term strategic position resulting from the Mainland's rising global political and economic leadership role and its growing military power.

As participants in a Center for Strategic and International Studies Freeman Chair-sponsored week-long observation tour of Taiwan that coincided with the 30th anniversary of the passage of the Taiwan Relations Act, we met with a range of senior government and party officials from the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) and opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). We were also able to observe Taiwan's efforts to address the effects of the global financial crisis. These conversations underscored both Taiwan's vibrancy and its vulnerabilities; future developments in cross-strait relations now hold an important key both to Ma's political success and Taiwan's capacity to pursue an effective international economic growth strategy.

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