Teaching a graduate seminar on contemporary Taiwan, I was asked by a student, “Will you be teaching this course in the future? Isn’t Taiwan over?”
The student’s assessment that a Taiwan separate from China was approaching its end is not surprising. It reflects China’s growing international clout and effectiveness in picking off one after another of Taiwan’s few remaining diplomatic allies, Taiwan’s unusual abilities to alienate both friends and foes with provocative stunts in order to score points in domestic Taiwan politics, and President Bush’s slow but steady shift from ardent defense of Taiwan to collaborating with Beijing to the point of reputed U.S.-China “co-management” of the Taiwan issue. Bending to the realities of China’s power, Taiwan’s growing economic interdependence with the mainland, and evaporating international support for Taiwan, observers in Taiwan and abroad seem sensible in judging that Taiwan has few options other than coming to terms with China.