Keynote speech: America’s Taiwan Dilemma: During and After Derecognition

Keynote Speaker: Harry Harding

Harry Harding is University Professor and Professor of Public Policy at the University of Virginia and Adjunct Chair Professor at National Chengchi University. His current research focuses on the contemporary history of US-China relations, exploring the difficulties the two countries faced in trying to build a more stable and cooperative relationship after the Tiananmen Crisis of 1989. In addition to several edited volumes, his major publications include Organizing China: The Problem of Bureaucracy, 1949-1966; China’s Second Revolution: Reform after Mao; A Fragile Relationship: the United States and China since 1972; and the chapter on the Cultural Revolution in the Cambridge History of China.

Harding served as the founding dean of U.Va.’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy between 2009 and 2014. Before joining the Batten School, he held faculty appointments at Swarthmore College and Stanford University and was a Senior Fellow in the Foreign Policy Studies Program at the Brookings Institution. Between 1995 and 2005 he served as Dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University and was elected to two terms as president of the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs He chaired the Committee on Scholarly Communication with the People’s Republic of China (later renamed the Program for International Studies in Asia), and has been the chair, director, or trustee of numerous other educational and non-profit institutions. From 2005 to 2007, Harding was Director of Research and Analysis at Eurasia Group, a political risk research and advisory firm based in New York. His government service includes membership on the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Science and Technology and the U.S. Defense Policy Board. A graduate of Princeton in public and international affairs, he holds a Ph.D. in political science from Stanford.


Ever since its earliest overtures to Beijing in the late 1970s and early 1970s, the United States has tried to balance its sympathies for Taiwan with its desire for a constructive relationship with the mainland. This dilemma was first reflected in the text of the Shanghai Communique and the terms of normalization, and then in subsequent decisions about Washington’s “One China Policy” and its residual security commitment to Taipei. The dilemma has produced considerable uncertainty and variation, reflected most recently in the inconsistent statements and actions of the Trump Administration regarding Taiwan.