US Taiwan Policy: Constructing the Triangle, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

US Taiwan Policy

Constructing the Triangle, 1st Edition

By Øystein Tunsjø


194 pages

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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’.


"Based on extensive original archival research, Tunsju deftly employs constructivism's emphasis on identity, norms, and discourse analysis to the development of the US positions on Taiwan over the past half century or more. He carries the narrative forward in a clear exposition while maintaining a sophisticated sense of the theoretical underpinnings of constructivism. The work serves as an effective, illuminating case study of constructivism, as well as lending insight into the perspectives of US policy makers dealing with Taiwan as China and the US have moved from hostility to a policy of constructive engagement." - J.A. Rhodes, Luther College

Table of Contents

1. Refocusing the Study of US Taiwan Policy 2. Discourses and the Origins of the ‘Taiwan Issue’ 1949–50 3. Opening Space on the Taiwan Question 1969–72 4. Contemporary Challenges in US Taiwan Policy 5. Debating US Strategy towards China 6. Understanding US Taiwan Policy – The Linkage between History and Theory

About the Author

Øystein Tunsjø 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.

About the Series

Asian Security Studies

Few regions of the world are fraught with as many security questions as Asia. Within this region it is possible to study great power rivalries, irredentist conflicts, nuclear and ballistic missile proliferation, secessionist movements, ethnoreligious conflicts and inter-state wars. This series publishes the best possible scholarship on the security issues affecting the region, and includes detailed empirical studies, theoretically oriented case studies and policy-relevant analyses as well as more general works.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Military / General