After long being viewed as potential flashpoint, relations across the Taiwan Strait have stabilized tremendously in recent years, reflecting moderation in the approaches both Beijing and Taipei have taken with regard to the cross-Strait sovereignty dispute. In my presentation, I consider whether this new-found stability in the Taiwan Strait is likely to persist. In particular, I consider how fundamental trends in cross-Strait relations—such as rapidly growing Chinese military power and deepening cross-Strait economic exchange—are affecting the likelihood that the conflict scenarios which worried analysts prior to the current détente will re-emerge as future concerns. My analysis suggests that the relationship across the Taiwan Strait is likely to be more stable in the years ahead than was the case in the years preceding 2008; this conclusion holds even if there is a change in ruling party in Taiwan. But I also emphasize that the cross-Strait relationship has not been fundamentally transformed, and that the potential for serious conflict remains.
Scott L. Kastner is Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Government and Politics, University of Maryland, College Park. Kastner’s research interests include China’s foreign relations, the international politics of East Asia, and international political economy. His book, Political Conflict and Economic Interdependence across the Taiwan Strait and Beyond, was published in the Studies in Asian Security series by Stanford University Press (2009). His work has also appeared in journals such as International Security, Journal of Conflict Resolution, International Studies Quarterly, Comparative Political Studies, Security Studies, and Journal of Peace Research. Kastner received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, San Diego.