Friday February 21, 2020


Willard InterContinental
Washington, DC



On Thursday, September 15, the United States-China Policy Foundation hosted a discussion in its Public Diplomacy Roundtable series on the outlook in Taiwan. The roundtable commenced with remarks from distinguished China scholars on current developments in Taiwan, the upcoming 2012 Taiwanese presidential election, and U.S. support for peaceful China-Taiwan relations. The speakers included Dr. Richard C. Bush, Director of the Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution; Ms. Bonnie S. Glaser, Senior Fellow with the Freeman Chair China Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies; Dr. Douglas H. Paal, Vice President for Studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace;  Dr. Robert G. Sutter, Professor of International Affairs at George Washington University; and was moderated by Ambassador Chas W. Freeman, Jr., former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs.

The panelists commented on developments in the past decade of cross-Strait relations and prospects for stability with the upcoming election in January 2012. Dr. Richard Bush cited past transitions of power on the mainland and in Taiwan, with the election of current President Ma Ying-jeou, as the key factors in increasing economic cooperation and reversing the negative spiral of relations prior to May 2008. He also mentioned that this trend could lose its momentum under a different Taiwanese administration unless Taiwan and China find ways to sustain cooperation and dialogue. Ms. Bonnie Glaser provided observations on how Beijing officials perceive the current state of cross-Strait relations and their likely response to election results in January. Glaser said they would not be particularly pleased to see a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate taking the helm of Taiwanese politics. This is mainly because Tsai Ing-wen, current chairwoman of the DPP and presidential opposition candidate, has rejected the “’92 Consensus,” which Beijing sees as an important foundation and pillar for continuing negotiations between itself and Taiwan.

Dr. Douglas Paal proceeded to comment on the outlook for the upcoming election based on current political trends & statistics from past electoral seasons. Based on Taiwanese tendencies to vote on economic and welfare issues (a KMT strong suit) & the strong entrenchment of the KMT in the Taiwanese legislature, Dr. Paal conjectured that President Ma is most likely to win the presidential seat in January unless faced by surprising developments. The Taiwanese political scene is not immune to dramatic events and vigorous last-minute campaigning, so the KMT must truly rally its active supporters to hold Ma in power. Dr. Robert Sutter wrapped up the session with insight into future Taiwanese freedom of action. He claimed that due to increased dependence on China, indigenous Taiwan weakness, and an erosion of U.S. support for Taiwan, Taiwan has forfeited its ability to act independently of Chinese influence and a reversal in cross-Strait engagement is highly unlikely. Sutter added that while Congress still helps build attack deterrence measures in Taiwan, action from the U.S. is mainly driven by domestic political interests and is no longer a true effort to support Taiwanese sovereignty.

The panelists engaged in a brief Q&A session after their remarks, answering audience questions regarding the mainland’s reaction to a possible US arms sale to Taiwan, Chairwoman Tsai’s visit to the US, and the future development of cross-Strait economic & political relations. The USCPF was honored to host such distinguished experts at this timely and informative dialogue and looks forward to organizing future events and seminars in its Public Diplomacy Roundtable series.


For further media coverage of the roundtable, please visit the following news sources:

China Daily – Backlash Expected if US Seals Arms Deal

The China Press – 美国台海问题专家:蔡英文若获胜 两岸紧张或再现

Washington Chinese News & Asian Gazette 美中政策基金会举办『台湾张望』讨论会

For full video footage of this and previous USCPF panel discussions, visit the USCPF’s YouTube channel.