Inherited Rivalry: Conflict Across the Taiwan Straits

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Inherited Rivalry: Conflict Across the Taiwan Straits

Edited by Tun-Jen Cheng, Chi Huang, and Samuel S. G. Wu
Lynne Rienner, 1995
277 pp. $42.00
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The deficiencies of this volume highlight the need for a balanced and sober account of recent relations between the People's Republic of China and Taiwan. First, there is a pretentious emphasis on the part of the editors and some of the contributors on exploring the Taiwan-PRC relationship in order to make theoretical contributions to the study of international politics. The result is a volume whose reach far exceeds its grasp. Second, by placing their emphasis on theory, the editors miss a good opportunity to assess the policy options for the PRC, Taiwan, and the United States. Finally, the volume has too much of a pro-Taiwan slant.

Despite these problems, there are a few informative essays. John Fuh-sheng Hsieh, a political science professor in Taiwan, contributes a cogent essay on the people involved in the making of Taiwan's mainland policy. He shows a continuum with those who seek reunification at one end and those who seek independence at the other. But the vital middle ground is held by the mainstream faction of the ruling party, the Nationalist Party (KMT), led by President Lee Teng-hui. This group favors opening up to the mainland but only at a slow pace. Parris Chang has also written an informative essay on Taiwan's "flexible diplomacy" toward the PRC that has now led to a substantial growth of indirect trade and investment on the mainland and a lifting of the travel ban. But Chang agrees with Hsieh that Taiwan's opening to the PRC will be very cautious for at least two reasons. KMT officials are fearful of undermining Taiwan's stability and security. They see direct trade and direct investments as Taiwan's bargaining chips to secure concessions.