Courtesy Reuters

HISTORY OF A CAMPAIGN THAT FAILED

Political developments in Taiwan over the past year have effectively ended the independence movement there. What had been a major source of regional instability -- and the most likely source of a great-power war anywhere in the world -- has become increasingly irrelevant. The peaceful transformation of relations between China and Taiwan will help stabilize eastern Asia, reduce the likelihood of conflict between China and the United States, and present an opportunity for Beijing, Taipei, and Washington to adjust their defense postures -- all without hurting Taiwan's security or threatening U.S. interests.

Taiwan's independence movement gained momentum in 1995 when Washington allowed Taiwan's then president, Lee Teng-hui, to visit the United States. During his stay, Lee gave a speech at Cornell University that signaled his impatience for independence. Before that trip, the United States had long banned visits by Taiwan's leaders in deference to

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  • Robert S. Ross is Professor of Political Science at Boston College and an Associate at the John King Fairbank Center for East Asian Research at Harvard University. His most recent book is Normalization of U.S.-China Relations: An International History, which he co-edited.
  • More By Robert S. Ross