China Leadership Monitor

Taiwan: All Politics, All the Time

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Domestic politics in Taiwan overshadow all else in the U.S.-Taiwan-PRC triangular relationship and will likely do so for the foreseeable future. Beijing, like Washington, has studiously avoided taking sides in the island’s current domestic political maelstrom, and expanded cross-Strait charter flights are moving ahead while economic relations are burgeoning. At the same time, Beijing has expressed apprehension that desperation political moves by Chen Shui-bian could generate a cross-Strait crisis and has appealed to Washington to take timely action to forestall it. Despite Taipei’s efforts to quell any American concerns in this regard, Chen Shui-bian has yet again raised the prospect of constitutional changes that would—if enacted—precipitate a crisis. Although the prospect of success of such constitutional moves remains close to zero, U.S. impatience with such unnecessary distractions has led Washington once more to ratchet up warnings to the Taiwan leader.