'One-China principle' : Taiwan, the missing link : a threat analysis of a military conflict in the Taiwan Strait : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Defence and Strategic Studies at Massey University
Taiwan has been transformed from a neglected unsettled frontier into a prosperous democratic nation of 23 million people. Prior to the transformation, control over the island has passed through the hands of succession masters, ranging from the Dutch colonizers to the Man Chinese pioneers, the Manchu officials and the Japanese imperialists. It was only in 1945 that the island reverted to Chinese control under the Republic of China government. Subsequent to this reversion, China itself was divided by a Civil War into two parts: the capitalist Republic of China on Taiwan and the Communist regime of the People's Republic of China on Chinese mainland. Ever since, the two sides face each other across the narrow Taiwan Strait in a tense confrontation marked by hostility and distrust. This thesis examines the cross-Strait relations between Taiwan and the Peoples' Republic of China, specifically on the notion of the 'one-China' principle where both Taiwan and Mainland China advocate that they are part of one state. While the notion of the 'one-China' principle has been the subject of different interpretations, in recent times there has been an erosion of this principle on the part of Taiwan creating a sense of uncertainty to international security. The result of which gave rise to the threat of the possibility of a military conflict between China and Taiwan. The paper seeks to analyse such a threat and examine the rationale behind the gradual erosion of the principle. What is the strategic significance of this erosion? There follows a critical examination of the subject of sovereignty and security, the two main issues that formed the substance of the dispute. What is the likelihood of the risk of military confrontation? Lastly, what are the current political developments and the outlook.