Taiwan: Recent Developments and U.S. Policy Choices [Updated March 17, 2005]   [open pdf - 852B]

"Under the Bush Administration, U.S.- China-Taiwan relations have undergone a number of changes. Initially, the new Administration seemed to abandon the long-standing U.S. policy of 'strategic ambiguity' on Taiwan in favor of 'strategic clarity' that placed more emphasis on Taiwan's interests and less on PRC [People's Republic of China] concerns. Among other things, President Bush publicly stated that the United States would do 'whatever it takes' to help Taiwan's defense -- a position more supportive of Taiwan than had been articulated by previous U.S. presidents. In April 2001, the President also approved a substantial sale of U.S. weapons to Taiwan, including Kidd-class destroyers, anti-submarine P-3 'Orion' aircraft, and diesel submarines. The White House also was more accommodating to visits from Taiwan officials than previous U.S. Administrations, and permitted visits from Taiwan's president in 2001 and 2003, and from Taiwan's vice president and defense minister in 2002. […] Political trends in Taiwan have raised anxieties about its future and the implications for U.S. policy. Some are concerned that a continued emphasis on 'Taiwan identity' may lead to ethnic polarization and conflict. Others are concerned about the implications that these trends have for a possible declaration of Taiwan independence, which Beijing has vowed to 'pay any price' to prevent. In recent months, political developments in Taiwan appear to be causing the Bush Administration to dial back its earlier enthusiasm for supporting Taiwan. U.S. officials now appear to be balancing criticisms of the PRC military buildup opposite Taiwan with periodic cautions and warnings to the effect that U.S. support for Taiwan is not unconditional, but has limits. This issue brief tracking the situation in Taiwan will be updated as events warrant."

Report Number:
CRS Issue Brief for Congress, IB98034
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