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Rethinking Taiwan policy: History, politics, ideology

By Dr Mark Harrison

The issue of Taiwan has long been one of the most intractable and multilayered in regional political, defence, foreign affairs, trade and security policy.

Taiwan is claimed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as part of its territory, and, under its official title of the Republic of China (ROC), Taiwan is limited by Beijing to a marginal position in the international system. Political relations between Taipei and Beijing are fractious, but the Taiwan Strait is at the same time a critical link in global supply chains, carrying hundreds of billions of dollars of cross-strait trade in goods and services and investments every year. Hanging over this political and economic relationship is the constant threat of military action from Beijing.

Taiwan policy in Australia and internationally is structured around the ‘resolution’ of the Taiwan issue, either through a negotiated settlement or through large-scale military action by the PRC.

Australia should reassess its understanding of the Taiwan issue so as to identify alternative scenarios and calibrate its responses accordingly.