Date of Award

12-18-2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

Andrew H. Wedeman

Second Advisor

Charles R. Hankla

Third Advisor

Kim D. Reimann

Abstract

This dissertation investigates negative or-positive patterns and the behavioral stability of cross-strait relations with a time-series analysis. It aims to clarify the impacts of these four factors in cross-strait relations: the Cold War legacy, the Chinese Civil War legacy, economic interdependence, and Taiwanese domestic politics. The key findings are as follows.

First, most factors suggested by the existing literature only influence the stability, rather than negative-or-positive patterns, of cross-strait relation. For the Cold War legacy, although the United States played an important role in the formation of the U.S.-China-Taiwan triangle, the U.S. influence mainly works on the stability of cross-strait relations in an indirect way. Regarding the Chinese Civil War legacy, the legacy is the only factor that can influence both negative-or-positive patterns and the stability of cross-strait relations. China’s tit-for-tat response to Taiwan is the only significant pattern related to the negative-or-positive change of cross-strait relations, which suggests Taiwan’s special status in China’ policy-making process since 1949. For economic interdependence and Taiwan’s domestic politics, the decline of economic interdependence and the approach of Taiwan’ presidential election both create instability rather than conflict for cross-strait relations. In short, the validity of existing international relations theories, like the commercial peace theory and “election to fight” mechanisms, is not supported by the statistical analysis in this dissertation.

Second, the importance of Taiwan is evident, and the conventional wisdom about the conflictive and instable effects of the pro-independence leadership in Taiwan may be more like a myth in cross-strait relations. The results in this dissertation show no evidence to support the presence of a conflictive tendency when Taiwan’s pro-independence leaders are in power. More importantly, with the evidence of China’s tit-fir-tat response to Taiwan since 1979, building an environment to induce Taiwan’s persistent cooperation to China is the key to reduce the future tension in the Taiwan Strait.

Finally, although the impact of leadership change in Taiwan is limited, it still works as a good proxy to identify the priorities of Taiwan and China’s behaviors in different periods and synthesize the factors coming from both international and domestic levels.

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