US Foreign Policy Toward Taiwan, 1949-2023
Sabella O. Abidde, PhD
The US diplomatic relations with the Republic of China (ROC/Taiwan) were terminated in 1979 after the US government acquiesced to the One China policy as insisted by the People’s Republic of China (PRC/China). But despite the formal diplomatic disengagement, the US has continued to maintain a strong but unofficial relationship with Taiwan. As noted by the U.S Department of State, “Taiwan has become an important U.S. partner in trade and investment, health, semiconductor and other critical supply chains, investment screening, science and technology, education, and advancing democratic values.” In the shadow of US-Taiwan relations, therefore, is the PRC. This tripartite relationship is one of the most complicated, widely watched, and politically sensitive in modern times.
Taiwan has met all but one of the requirements to be considered a nation-state and a full member of the United Nations, yet it is not. Its status is a consequence of the Chinese Civil War fought between the Nationalists (Kuomintang) under Chiang Kai-shek and the Communists under Mao Zedong. Although the civil war ended in 1949 -- with the relocation of the Kuomintang to the island of Taiwan -- there was never an armistice; rather, the dispute morphed into a seven-decades-plus impasse from which has arisen legal and political questions.
The first of the two questions centered on representation: which of the two Chinas is the true and legitimate representative of China? This question was resolved in 1971 when The United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758 recognized the PRC as “the only legitimate representative of China to the United Nations” and removed “the representatives of Chiang Kai-shek” from the UN.” The second question, considered to be the more complicated of the two, is “what entity has territorial sovereignty over Taiwan?” This question persists even though Taiwan has achieved economic, political, and governmental autonomy and is, clearly, independent of China.
While China claims Taiwan as one of its provinces, Taiwan sees itself as a self-governing entity and has, over the years, rebuffed China’s entreaties at unification and is dismissive of the periodic threats of annexation. The result of this is that more than seven decades after the founding of modern Taiwan, it remains a contested state, an ambiguous political entity with less than eighteen countries recognizing it as a bona fide nation-state. And even the United States, Taiwan’s most steady and dependable partner adheres to the One China policy and does not have a formal diplomatic relation with Taiwan – but only a robust unofficial diplomatic relationship conducted through the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) as mandated by the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979. Other than the Taiwan Relations Act, the basis of U.S. Policy Toward Taiwan has been the Taiwan Policy Review; the Six Assurances; the Shanghai Communiqué; the Normalization Communiqué; the Shanghai II Communiqué; and the Six Assurances.
Taiwan has a high favorable rating amongst the US public and within the US government as demonstrated by the many official and unofficial visits by government officials. In the contest and contestations between China and Taiwan, therefore, the US is firmly in support of Taiwan. With this amount of stated and demonstrated support, why hasn’t Washington recognized the ROC as a nation-state or signed a formal defense treaty, or guarantee her safety and security in the event of a military annexation by the PRC? What we have is a strategy of ambiguity -- instead of clarity and intentionality. The status quo has been in place for several years.
The relationship between the US and Taiwan; and between the US and China are multilayered and fraught. Using the process of periodization (segmentation of time and presidencies), this proposed volume aims to examine US foreign policy toward Taiwan between 1949 and 2023. We invite scholars, retired diplomats, public intellectuals, and others to submit abstracts on the topics listed below. Contributors are also at liberty to suggest/write on other topics if their subject matter falls within the overall thrust of our book. The suggested topics are:
Section One: US and Taiwan During the Cold War Era
- Harry S. Truman Years, 1945-1953
- Dwight D. Eisenhower Years, 1953-1961
- John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, 1961-1969
- Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, 1969-1977
- Jimmy Carter, 1977-1981
- Ronald Reagan, 1981-1989
Section Two: US and Taiwan in the Post-Cold War Era
- George H. W. Bush, 1989-1993
- Bill Clinton, 1993-2001
- George W. Bush, 2001-2009
- Barack Obama, 2009-2017
- Donald Trump, 2017-2021
- Joseph Biden, 2021 -
Section Three: Instruments, Processes, and Strategies
- US Policy: Strategic Ambiguity or Clarity and Intentionality
- The Three Communiques,
- The Taiwan Relations Act and The Six Assurances
- Taiwan in US Domestic Politics
- Joseph Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Tsai Ing-wen, and Xi Jinping
- Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine: Lessons and Implications for US-China-Taiwan Relations
Submission Requirements/Due Date:
- Please submit a 300-350-word abstract plus a 150-250-word biography (About the Author) by November 15, 2022.
- You will be notified of the acceptance or rejection of your abstract by November 30, 2022. Your chapter, 9000-9500-words (including the note and bibliography) is due June 30, 2023. For citation/formatting, please adhere to the Chicago Manual of Style, 17th ed.
- Please send your inquiries and/or abstracts to: Sabidde@alasu.edu
About the Editor: Sabella Abidde is a professor of political science and a member of the graduate faculty at Alabama State University. He holds a BA in international relations from Saint Cloud State University Minnesota, an MA in political science from Minnesota State University Mankato, and a Ph.D. in African Studies, World Affairs, Public Policy and Development Studies from Howard University. He is the Series Editor of Springer’s “Africa-East Asia International Relations;” and the editor/coeditor of China and Taiwan in Africa: The Struggle for Diplomatic Recognition and Hegemony (Springer, 2022); Africa-China-Taiwan Relations, 1949–2020 (Lexington Books, 2022); and China in Africa: Between Imperialism and Partnership in Humanitarian Development (Lexington Books, 2021). Dr. Abidde is a member of the Association of Global South Studies (AGSS); the African Studies and Research Forum (ASRF); the American Political Science Association (APSA); and the American Association for Chinese Studies (AACS).
Department of History and Political Science
Alabama State University Montgomery