Not So Dire Straits

How the Finlandization of Taiwan Benefits U.S. Security

Courtesy Reuters

Since 2005, Taiwan and China have been moving into a closer economic and political embrace -- a process that accelerated with the election of the pro-détente politician Ma Ying-jeou as Taiwan's president in 2008. This strengthening of relations presents the United States with its greatest challenge in the Taiwan Strait since 1979, when Washington severed ties with Taipei and established diplomatic relations with Beijing.

In many ways, the current thaw serves Taipei's interests, but it also allows Beijing to assert increasing influence over Taiwan. As a consensus emerges in Taiwan on establishing closer relations with China, the thaw is calling into question the United States' deeply ambiguous policy, which is supposed to serve both Taiwan's interests (by allowing it to retain its autonomy) and the United States' own (by guarding against an expansionist China). Washington now faces a stark choice: continue pursuing a militarized realist approach -- using Taiwan to balance the

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