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clear CIAO Focus, March 2006: The Reunification of China and Taiwan
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Taiwan's President Chen Shui-ban antagonized both China and the United States late last month when he confirmed plans to scrap the National Unification Council and the accompanying guidelines for unification, which he denounced as "absurd products of an absurd era." The council--established 15 years ago to facilitate the reunification of China and Taiwan--has been all but defunct since Chen became president in 2000, but up until now he has refrained from dissolving it.

The two countries split in 1949 at the close of the Chinese civil war when the defeated nationalists fled to Taiwan where they set up a separate government. China has since been adamant about its reunification plans and vows to invade Taiwan if the island officially declares statehood. China called Chen's decision "dangerous" but did not threaten Taiwan with military reprisals. Instead, the government in Beijing has attempted to appease its neighbor by relaxing restrictions on Chinese tourists wishing to visit Taiwan.

The U.S. is obligated by treaty to protect Taiwan from aggression and remains the island's biggest trading partner and most important ally. For thirty years the U.S. only recognized Taiwan, but this changed in 1979 when the Americans switched diplomatic recognition to mainland China.

Washington is urging both countries to stay the course on unification. Now especially, when it is occupying two countries, and with a watchful eye on both North Korea and Iran, the last thing the U.S. needs is for someone to upset the applecart in the Taiwan Strait.

From CIAO's database:

China and Taiwan: Uneasy Dtente

The China-Taiwan Military Balance Implications for the United States

Balancing Act: Taiwan's Cross-Strait Challenge

Deterring Conflict in the Taiwan Strait: The Successes and Failures of Taiwan's Defense Reform and Modernization Program

Taiwan Straight IV: How an Ultimate Political Settlement Might Look

Reverse Course? The Fragile Turnaround in U.S.-China Relations

Outside Links*:

Taiwan Info

China-Taiwan Story (PBS)

Taiwan's Ties with China (BBC)

A policy of "one country, two systems" on Taiwan (Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

White Papers on the Taiwan Question

* Outside links are not maintained. For broken outside links, CIAO recommends the Way Back Machine [].