Theorizing on relations across the Taiwan strait: Nine contending approaches

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Cross-Strait relations between Taiwan and mainland China are of great importance to the development of China and peace in East Asia. However, this subject has not been sufficiently dealt with in a theoretical manner. This paper takes stock of the analytical approaches in the field in an effort to present to the academic world the existing intellectual instruments that interested researchers can take advantage of in cross-Strait studies. Nine approaches are identified. They are: the divided-nation model, integration theory, the power asymmetry model, the vote-maximizing model, the developmental state paradigm, strategic triangle theory, systems theory, political psychology theory, and the cognitive approach. The intellectual roots of these approaches are traced and their applicability to cross-Strait relations examined. Their strengths and weaknesses are also compared. Finally, a synthetic analytical framework is proposed. It is believed that a literature review of this kind is a prerequisite to a theoretical understanding of the cross-Strait relations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)407-428
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Contemporary China
Issue number25
StatePublished - 2000


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