During much of the 2000s, tensions between Taiwan and China roiled the stability of East Asia. Each side feared the intentions of the other and acted on those fears, creating a vicious circle of political mistrust and military build-up. The United States was drawn in because Beijing and Taipei each urged Washington to take its side against the other. Some strategists believed that Taiwan was the only issue that might spark a U.S.-China war. Over the last five years, the relationship between China and Taiwan has changed for the better, with cooperation replacing confrontation, and the danger of war declining. However, future momentum will likely slow, and China has not abandoned its goal of unifying with Taiwan on its terms. Will it be content to continue its current, incremental approach? What will happen if it doesn’t? What can Taiwan, China and the United States do to ensure that the current stability will continue?
On February 6, the Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies at Brookings (CNAPS) hosted the launch of a new book, Uncharted Strait: the Future of China-Taiwan Relations (Brookings, 2013) by CNAPS Director and Senior Fellow Richard Bush. Uncharted Strait explores the significant shift in cross-Strait relations and prospects for the future. Senior Fellow Mireya Solís, the Philip Knight Chair in Japan Studies, provided introductory remarks and moderated the discussion.