China, the United States, and Taiwan's Democratization
China is already emerging as an economic powerhouse and fears of its becoming an expansionist military power have grown in recent years as China has rapidly built up its armed forces since 1989. It has also adopted a more assertive stance in several territorial disputes with its neighbors, arousing new security concerns for Asia as a whole.
When China tried to intimidate Taiwan's voters by firing missiles and conducting large-scale military exercises off its coasts in the period preceding the 1996 election, the U.S. dispatched two aircraft carrier battle groups to Taiwan. The prestige of all sides was fully engaged as powerful do domestic interests demanded an assertive posture. Eventually, China adopted a more cautious stance and the crisis passed. But it marked the first instance of Chinese nuclear coercion of the U.S. and gave the "China threat" new credence in the U.S. and elsewhere in Asia.
The author has studied the Taiwan question for more than 30 years and has witnessed first-hand the growth and culmination of Taiwan's democratization. This sober, mature reflection of decades of thought is certain to inform the debate on the "China threat" and the future of Sino-U.S. relations.
About the Author
"An excellent in-depth analysis of the 1996 crisis. . . . Garver also raises thought-provoking policy issues with regard to China and Taiwan, challenging American policy makers to define U.S. policy interests in Taiwan clearly and think through the problem of how to cope with a rising China."—China Review International
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