May 18, 2016

CNAS Releases “Seeing Strait: The Future of the U.S.-Taiwan Strategic Relationship”

Washington, May 18 – As Taiwan prepares to inaugurate President-Elect Tsai Ing-wen, Center for a New American Security (CNAS) Asia-Pacific Security Program Research Associate Harry Krejsa has written a new report, “Seeing Strait: The Future of the U.S.-Taiwan Strategic Relationship.” The report makes the case that U.S. policy should emphasize Taiwan’s human capital, defensive capabilities, and integration into the international marketplace.
Please find the report below:
Please find the report’s executive summary below:
In January, Taiwanese voters took to the polls in one of Asia’s most advanced democracies. In the island’s third democratic transfer of power, a unified government controlled by the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was elected for the first time. Driven by mounting anxiety over the economy, voters seem to have associated the sagging economic outlook with outgoing President Ma Ying-jeou and his Kuomintang Party’s (KMT) policies of cross-strait rapprochement. The victorious DPP, while promising to largely maintain the status quo, takes office with a mandate increasingly skeptical of China.
As new American and Taiwanese governments assess their priorities for the coming years, U.S. policymakers must be aware of the trends at play in Taiwan and their implications for the two countries’ strategic and economic relationship. The United States should continue to support Taiwan’s defense from conflict or coercion, but that will require a more nuanced approach than occasional boilerplate arms sales. U.S. policy should seek to shift Taiwanese strategic concerns from hardware prestige to human capital prestige, buttress Taiwan’s defensive capabilities with smart investments rather than just expensive ones, and – crucially – back Taiwan’s efforts to integrate more deeply into the international marketplace. By doing so, Taiwan may be able to improve its deterrence against Chinese threats, get its economy growing again, and achieve greater international visibility than it now enjoys – all without sliding from China-skepticism to China-hostility.
Krejsa is available for interviews. Please contact Neal Urwitz at or 202-457-9409 if you would like to arrange one.