Domestic political competition and triangular interaction among Washington, Beijing, and Taipei: The U.S. China policy

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Abstract

Empirical evidence has shown that domestic political competition has a great impact on triangular interaction among Washington, Beijing, and Taipei. How do policymakers play the domestic game and the international triangular game concurrently and expect to maximize their payoffs? This paper examines the relevant literature and proposes a refined sequential model to analyze the China policy of the United States since 1980. The hypothesis is that domestic political competition determines external policy during election periods. In between elections, triangular strategic calculation dominates. Specifically, the quadrennial presidential elections provide opportunities for challengers to attack the incumbent president's realist China policy, thus bringing pressure for a change of the existing policy. Whether such an attack takes place hinges on the combinations of the idealist and realist images of the PRC in the United States. Attack will occur only when the two images diverge and the president does not preempt the issue. Seven presidential elections since 1980 are examined to test this refined model. The findings will be integrated into a composite framework to analyze interaction among Washington, Beijing, and Taipei.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-46
Number of pages46
JournalIssues and Studies
Volume42
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2006

Keywords

  • Cross-Strait relations
  • Domestic politics
  • Foreign policy
  • Strategic triangle
  • U.S. China policy

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