The relationship between the United States and China is one of the most important issues in the twenty-first century, and is, ultimately, hostage to conditions across the Taiwan Strait. This book is the first to attempt to trace the historical origin of what is known as the `Taiwan issue' in US-China relations from a constructivist perspective, based on detailed archival research.
The analysis used supplements the mainstream rationalist approach by developing a new theoretical perspective on US Taiwan policy that incorporates constructivism's emphasis on identity, norms and discourse analysis. Scholars have never previously developed or elaborated upon this approach to any significant extent. The book re-examines the protection of Taiwan by military means following the outbreak of the Korean War, and the establishment of the `one China' policy in relation to the process of rapprochement during President Nixon's first term in office. It also considers the contemporary challenges posed to the `one China' policy by the increased importance of promoting human rights and democracy in US foreign policy, arguing that the current US China policy is guided by a new strategy based on `engagement plus hedging'.
Oystein Tunsjo is a Senior Research Fellow, Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies, Oslo, Norway. He holds a PhD in International Relations from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, UK.