Vol. 7, No. 2 (2011): 1–15.
Taiwan has played a prominent role in Chinese politics since the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949. For decades, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) called for the “liberation” of the island, with the tone of the rhetoric changing but not the goal of unification. While cross-strait relations may have warmed under the Ma Ying-jeou administration and Sino-American relations beyond the Taiwan issue have greatly improved in the past decade, the role which Taiwan plays in Chinese nationalism may still lead to an undesired conflict. This article highlights the role of Taiwan within the Chinese nationalism and specifically how the island’s democratisation challenges this narrative. While economic relations between both sides increase, these underlying tensions do not preclude future military confrontation.
Timothy S. Rich is a doctoral candidate in political science at Indiana University. His research interests include East Asian party politics, cross-strait relations, and U.S. foreign policy in East Asia. His recent publications include a mixed method analysis of diplomatic recognition of Taiwan over the past 50 years, Chinese and Taiwanese assistance in the wake of the Haitian earthquake, and the implications of Taiwan’s democratisation on its own security. He conducted fieldwork in Taiwan in the summers of 2008 and 2009, the latter on a grant from the National Science Foundation’s EAPSI program. In 2010 he received a dissertation fellowship from the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange.