The Relations Across the Strait and the Future of Taiwan

Since Ms Tsai Ing-wen was elected in 2016, the relations across the Taiwan Strait have rapidly deteriorated. Direct communication between Taipei and Beijing has stopped. Chinese tourism to Taiwan has come to a standstill. And military tension has steadily deepened, particularly after the Trump Administration had decided to enhance its support for Taiwan and Tsai Ing-wen was re-elected in January 2020. Since then, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has intensified its intimidations against Taiwan, increasing its intrusion in the island’s Air Defence Identification Zone. To the point that a growing number of observers have started to speculate about a possible war in the Strait, an attempt by Xi Jinping to use force to realise his ambition to unify Taiwan to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) before he retires from power.

While armed conflict in the Taiwan Strait remains unlikely in the foreseeable future, risks of military incidents and even military crises have clearly increased. Although economic relations and interdependence between China and Taiwan have continued to develop, they are far from being able to guarantee that relations across the Taiwan Strait will remain stable in the coming years. Among the crucial variables that will in one way or another influence Taiwan’s future, one needs to mention the US and also Japan’s commitment to Taiwan’s security and survival, as well as Taiwanese society’s unity and determination to remain free and democratic.

Jean-Pierre Cabestan

Jean-Pierre Cabestan is Senior Researcher at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (Centre national de la recherche scientifique), attached to the French Research Institute on East Asia (IFRAE) of the National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilisations. Prior to September 2021, he was Chair Professor of Political Science, Department of Government and International Studies, Hong Kong Baptist University. He was Head of the Department from 2007 to 2018. He is also Associate Researcher at the Asia Centre, Paris and at the French Centre for Research on Contemporary China in Hong Kong. From 1998 to 2003, he was Director of the French Centre for Research on Contemporary China (Centre d’études français sur la Chine contemporaine, CEFC) in Hong Kong and chief editor of Perspectives chinoises and China Perspectives. From 1994 to 1998, he was director of the Taipei Office of the CEFC. In 1990-1991, he was lecturer at the Politics Department of the School of Oriental and African Studies. His most recent publications include La politique internationale de la Chine. Entre intégration et volonté de puissance, Paris, Presses de Sciences Po, 2010 (updated second edition published in 2015); China and the Global Financial Crisis. A Comparison with Europe, New York, Routledge, 2012 (co-edited with Jean-François Di Meglio & Xavier Richet) and Secessionism and Separatism in Europe and Asia. To have a state of one’s own (co-edited with Aleksandar Pavkovic), Routledge, Oxon & New York, 2013; Le système politique chinois. Un nouvel équilibre autoritaire (The Chinese Political System. A New Authoritarian Equilibrium), Paris, Presses de Sciences Po, 2014; Political Changes in Taiwan Under Ma Ying-jeou. Partisan Conflict, Policy Choices, External Constraints and Security Challenges. (co-edited with Jacques deLisle), Abingdon, Oxon & New York, Routledge, 2014; Tanzania-China All-Weather Friendship in the Era of Multipolarity, (with Jean-Raphaël Chaponnière), Saarbrücken, Lambert Academic Publishing, 2017, Demain la Chine: démocratie ou dictature? (China Tomorrow: Democracy or Dictatorship?), Paris, Gallimard, 2018 (Guizot Prize 2019), translated into English, updated and published under the titled China Tomorrow: Democracy or Dictatorship?, Lanham, MD, Rowman & Littlefield, 2019 and Demain la Chine: guerre ou paix? (China Tomorrow: War or Peace?), Paris, Gallimard, 2021. He has also published numerous articles and contributions in English on China’s political system and reform, Chinese law, the relations across the Taiwan Strait and Taiwanese politics. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Paris 1 (Panthéon-Sorbonne).

For a more complete list of his publications, cf.: