Of Paradigms, Politics and Principles: The 2016 Taiwan Elections and Implications for China’s Security Strategy and Cross-Strait Relations

Of Paradigms, Politics and Principles: The 2016 Taiwan Elections and Implications for China’s Security Strategy and Cross-Strait Relations

Tuesday, December 1, 2015
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
William J. Perry Conference Room
Encina Hall, Second Floor, Central, C231
616 Jane Stanford Way, Stanford, CA 94305
  • Cortez Cooper

Sponsored by the Taiwan Democracy Project and the U.S. Asia Security Initiative at the Asia-Pacific Research Center (APARC)


During the recent meeting between PRC President Xi Jinping and Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou, the “1992 One China Consensus” served as a mutually acceptable paradigm for maintaining “peaceful and stable” conditions across the Taiwan Strait.  For Xi Jinping, the warmth of the visit thinly veiled a message to Taiwan’s leaders and electorate, as well as to onlookers in Washington.  Chinese officials and media clearly link the talks and confirmation of the 1992 Consensus to “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”—a concept that is increasingly unpalatable to many in Taiwan.  Xi hopes to keep DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (and perhaps even future KMT leaders) in the 1992 Consensus “box” and to co-opt the U.S. in this effort, but perhaps underestimates the political transformation underway on Taiwan. 

The Xi administration has also hardened its position regarding “core interests” such as Taiwan, embodied in a “bottom line principle” policy directive that eschews compromise.  Although many commentators and most officials across the region have shied away from stating that the PRC and Taiwan are at the crossroads of crisis, the collision of political transformation on Taiwan and the PRC’s “bottom line principle” will challenge the fragile foundations of peaceful cross-Strait co-existence.  Changes in the regional balance of military power brought about by a more muscular People’s Liberation Army compounds the potential for increased friction, providing Beijing with more credible options for coercion and deterrence.

This talk will consider the politics and principles involved in cross-Taiwan Strait relations in light of the upcoming 2016 Taiwan elections and the policies of the Xi Jinping administration; and will discuss some of the possible implications for China’s national security policy, regional stability, and the future of cross-Strait relations.


Cortez Cooper
Mr. Cortez A. Cooper III joined RAND in April 2009, providing assessments of security challenges across political, military, economic, cultural, and informational arenas for a broad range of U.S. government clients.  Prior to joining RAND, Mr. Cooper was the Director of the East Asia Studies Center for Hicks and Associates, Inc.  He has also served in the U.S. Navy Executive Service as the Senior Analyst for the Joint Intelligence Center Pacific, U.S. Pacific Command.  As the senior intelligence analyst and Asia regional specialist in the Pacific Theater, he advised Pacific Command leadership on trends and developments in the Command’s area of responsibility.  Before his Hawaii assignment, Mr. Cooper was a Senior Analyst with CENTRA Technology, Inc., specializing in Asia-Pacific political-military affairs.  Mr. Cooper’s 20 years of military service included assignments as both an Army Signal Corps Officer and a China Foreign Area Officer.  In addition to numerous military decorations, the Secretary of Defense awarded Mr. Cooper with the Exceptional Civilian Service Award in 2001.

2016 Taiwan Elections and Implications for Cross-Strait and Regional Security
Download pdf