Beijing's evolving policy toward Taipei: Engagement or entrapment


This paper examines the changing nature of China's policy toward Taiwan. Many of the sharpest debates in Taiwan, the United States, and elsewhere have been over whether recent modifications in policy represent a genuine overhaul in Beijing's approach to Taipei. To simplify, some argue that meaningful change is already happening and that such developments warrant careful study and attention. However, skeptics conclude that change is not happening. As Chen Shui-bian observed during an interview with the author, the new strategy is nothing more than a tactic to "deceive our people and foreign countries." After analyzing various indicators, this study shows how theories and/or conceptual frameworks often employed in the fields of international relations and comparative politics help analysts from the Chinese mainland, Taiwan, and elsewhere unravel some parts of the complicated puzzle that constitutes Beijing's policy toward Taipei. In conclusion, however, the author suggests that it is probable that officials in Taipei will require more facts-not theories-before they agree that there is a genuine "paradigm shift" in Beijing's approach to the thorny Taiwan dispute.


Political Science

Document Type



China unification, China-Taiwan relations, Cross-strait relations, Political theory, Taiwan independence

Publication Date


Journal Title

Issues and Studies