Washing a short segment of the East Asian landmass at the Pacific Ocean's westerly reach, the Taiwan Strait connects the South and East China Seas. At the same time, it separates Taiwan from Fujian Province in the People's Republic of China (PRC) on opposite shores.
At its widest, the Taiwan Strait is about 160 kilometers (99 miles). The geographic separation is also political. Is Taiwan de facto an independent territorial state? Or a break-away province of another state? More narrowly posed, the Taiwan Question asks: "Who should rule Taiwan?"
That question gives rise to a variety of answers to additional questions. The current government? Or the aspiring one in Beijing? What are the alternatives? Unification? How? A continuation of the status quo? For how long? Acknowledgement of independence? With what consequences? Each question reflects a different point of view and typically is understood in light of one's prior political commitments. Each government, political party out of power, and nongovernmental organization has its own competing perspective and agenda.
For some, Taiwan's present autonomy and self-determination are a humiliating reminder of Qing Dynasty ineptness -- its capitulation to Japanese imperialism in 1895. Yet what some describe as China's coerced acquiescence in an "unequal treaty" with Japan that year is proof for others that China simply cared too little about Taiwan when it mattered.
In the former view, self-governance in Taiwan, is also an unfinished chapter of the Chinese Civil War of 1927-1949, especially if one emphasizes the collision of the Chinese Communist Revolution with American power. After Japan's defeat in 1945, U.S. military planes transported Chiang Kai-shek (Jiang Jieshi)'s troops to North China to resume their fight against Communist partisans in Manchuria. Five years later, the US Seventh Fleet intervened in the Taiwan Strait when the Korean War broke out. And after U.S.-led United Nations military forces threatened China's border with North Korea, the PRC began calling it the "Sino-American War in Korea."
However, global politics have undergone dramatic transformations since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the collapse of the former Soviet Union in 1991. Tactics once used by China and the US to influence government and society on that island are decreasingly effective, partly because globally-aware democratized younger generations are embracing a New Taiwanese Identity.
"Very useful," Asian Studies WWW Monitor, no. 180, 22 October 2002.
Nominee, Franklin Buchanan Prize, The Association for Asian Studies, 2003.
Because the Taiwan Question has elicited militarized confrontation, clarification may enable greater international understanding. This online directory presents Taiwan-PRC relations in light of five themes -- political history, historical precedents, military affairs, trade and investment, and international organizations.
Brief summaries and annotated links in the Taiwan Cross-Strait Directory connect the user to online indicators of domestic and international sources of conflict and conflict resolution in Taipei-Beijing relations. Clicking on any link within these five sections will take you out of this web site. Mostly in English, sometimes bilingual and certainly reflecting different points of view, external web sites are part of ongoing discussion and political history.
With the customary disclaimers, the Content Manager extends sincere thanks to four specialists in history, politics, culture, information science and international relations for vetting this Directory. Appreciation is extended to HUANG Kwei-Bo 黃奎博, Ph.D. (Associate Professor, National Chengchi University); Steven E. Phillips, Ph.D. (Professor, Towson University); Wenjing WANG, M.L.I.S. (Librarian, Hawaii Pacific University); and ZHA Daojiong 查道炯, Ph.D. (Professor, Peking University). Also, webmaster Martin K. Holzgang has our thanks.
At the Asia-Pacific Digital Institute (2000), Professor Loretta Oi-Quan Pang provided a skillful early critique of the proposal for the Taiwan Cross-Strait Directory.
Created in 2001, the Cross-Strait Directory will continue to be revised periodically.
- Vincent K. Pollard 文森特 伯拉德, Ph.D.
Dec 2010 Web Manager's note: If we find an expired link we will update the link or we will de-activate the link with a note specifying the original url.