In This Review

Breaking the China-Taiwan Impasse
Breaking the China-Taiwan Impasse
By Donald S. Zagoria
Praeger, 2003, 288 pp

This book, the contributions of American, Taiwanese, and Chinese foreign-policy experts to a series of roundtables sponsored by the National Committee on American Foreign Policy, provides broad perspectives and substantive details on the difficult triangular relationship. The volume's balanced prose (even in the insider accounts by former officials) makes it hard to keep in mind that cross-strait relations could degenerate into a horrible conflict that would present for Washington an impossible dilemma; the contributors demonstrate that civility is possible even in debates that arouse intense nationalistic passions. Its title, meanwhile, reflects the surge in optimism after the Democratic Progressive Party rose to power in 2000 and its president, Chen Shui-bian, promised that his administration would not seek independence. Since then, the situation has become grimmer, thanks in part to the Taiwanese legislature's decision to open the way for referendums on constitutional changes that could amount to a declaration of independence. Although the book does not cover these latest developments, it does show that a restoration of the earlier status quo could bring about a civil and stable relationship.