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History of China-Taiwan relationship

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Politics
Wordcount: 1865 words Published: 3rd Oct 2017

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Taiwan has been a part of the ancient China since NanSong Dynasty ( about 960 A.D.), During the Chinese civil war from 1945 to 1949, Republic of China (ROC)’s administration party, thus, KuoMinTang (KMT) evacuated to Taiwan Island and relocated the national government in Taipei, while the winner, Chinese Communist Party (CCP), has established the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in Beijing. Both parts has been claiming that they are the only lawful representative of China, however, ROC’s losing of its seat in United Nation in 1971 (replaced by PRC) and the effective “isolating ROC” (Chen, 2006, p110) plan squeezed ROC’s international spaces significantly. The United State’s troop firstly joined the KMT army in 1950s Taiwan Crisis (defined as Taiwan liberating battle by CCP) that has prevent Taiwan from “unified” by CCP and they then have singed the Mutual Defense Treaty between the USA and ROC in 1954 followed by the Taiwan Relation Art in 1979, the law regulating the US-Taiwan relationship after their termination of the official diplomatic relations( Wang, 2010). The US does not accept PRC’s claims to sovereignty over Taiwan and CCP’s definition of One-China policy and acts as the backup supporter for Taiwan’s defensive capability. As a result, there is challenge for China and Taiwan making political and military cooperation. Due to the lack of bilateral interactions, according to Saunders, (2005), there was increasing differences between national identities for both parts that posed barriers for further communication.

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Theory of Security Dilemma:

Being one of the most important ideas in the international security world, the security dilemma theory analyses how two countries or regions interact with each other, and the situation of security dilemma (should be distinct from the term security dilemma theory) describes the situation of two states or regions without offensive intentions that get into puzzle when both of them are seeking more security guarantees, in other words, the security dilemma is a crucial process which destabilises the existing balances of power that may finally failed to ” maintain a secure international order”(30 Cerny, 2000). Seen from the huge number of academic works which helped to explain the major political events like the First World War and the Cold War, the security dilemma is deployed to explain more international affairs in contemporary world.

Definition of Security Dilemma

In short, in this thesis, the security dilemma could be summarized by Alan Collins:

“(when) states take defensive measures to protect themselves, they can inadvertently signal to neighboring states that they might harbour expansionist goals. The scenario represents a deteriorating relationship based upon misperception, where, because the statesmen must provide for their states’ own security, a spiraling process of tension and arms procurement occurs. It is a tragedy, neither intends the other harm but, because they do not know this, their relationship deteriorates” (Collins 1997, 23).

To have a more rigorous understanding for the concept, Tang,(2009), mentioned eight major points for security dilemma.

(1)The ultimate source of the security dilemma is the anarchic nature of international politics.33 (2)2Under anarchy, states cannot be certain about each other’s present and future intentions. As a result, states tend to fear each other (or the possibility that the other side may be a predator).34 (3)The security dilemma is unintentional in origin: a genuine security dilemma can exist only between two defensive realist states (that is, states that merely want security without intending to threaten the other). (4)Because of the uncertainty about each other’s intentions (hereafter, uncertainty) and fear, states resort to the accumulation of power or capabilities as a means of defense, and these capabilities inevitably contain some offensive capabilities. (5)The dynamics of the security dilemma are self-reinforcing and often lead to (unintended and bad) spirals such as the worsening of relationships and arms races. (6) The dynamics of the security dilemma tends to make some measures for increasing security–for example, accumulating unnecessary offensive capabilities—self-defeating: more power but less security. (7)The vicious cycle derived from the security dilemma can lead to tragic results, such as unnecessary or avoidable wars. (8) The severity of the security dilemma can be regulated by both material factors and psychological factors. (Tang, 2009)

According to Tang,(2009) among all the eight points, uncertainty and fear generated in the anarchy structure, malign intention from both sides and accumulation of power are the three essential aspects while others points are not sufficient to construct the security dilemma. Similar to tang, Alan Collins has also concluded “three features” of security dilemma, which are: mutual suspicion, benign intentions and undesirable options. (Lee, 2009) On the third points, apart from building up the material capabilities, Collins has mentioned another scenario of the state’s reaction that if policy-makers decide to do nothing to reassure other states, this will also bring the state into risk by presenting ”a window for others to exploit any weakness”(1122Lee, 2009). Collins’ idea is corresponding to Booth and Wheeler’s (2008,p4) explanation of “a dilemma of response” which refers to when faced with military build-up in the counterpart state, decision-makers have difficulty in choosing a reassuring or a deterrent reaction. In sum, no matter what actions the sates take, there is a big chance of a vicious circle that decreases the security level for both sides.

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The Review of Security Dilemma Study

In this section, first, in order to have a more comprehensive understanding, there is a brief review of the academic works on the security dilemma security study; and second, have a look at the factors which affect the severity of security dilemma. The development of security dilemma could be regarded as a process of academic debate on whether the security dilemma could be mitigated in the anarchic international conditions. The earliest literatures under offensive realism have argued that there is an irreducible conflict between defensive states when they ask for more security because of the uncertainty. However, defensive realists, such as Robert Jervis, thinks the security dilemma could be mitigated when, under certain condition, both states successfully signal their benign intention to each other and then make a long-term cooperation(Jervis, 1796, p81). The constructivist approach strengthens the dialogue among policymakers which assign new connotations to the material factors that intensify the security dilemma.

The offensive realism, coined by John Mearsheimer (Booth and Wheeler,2008,p35), or the fatalist logic of insecurity concluded by Booth and Wheeler, refers to ensuring one state’s own security by pursuing the “overwhelming power” (Mearsheimer, 2007), and policy makers must adopt “worst-case scenario assumptions” when to interpret others’ intention. As a result, there is an inescapable security competition between states and increases the risk of war.

Though the writings of John Herz and Herbert Butterfield were before the came out of the term “offensive realism”, they are holding a same conclusion (Tan, 2007) John Herz has first coined the term “ security dilemma” in 1950, (Herz, 1950), the key passage about how the security dilemma leads to the security paradox as follow:

“Anarchic society has exited…Groups and individuals who live alongside each other without being organized into a higher unity . . . must be . . . concerned about their security from being attacked, subjected, dominated, or annihilated by other groups and individuals. Striving to attain security from such attacks, they are driven to acquire more and more power in order to escape the effects of the power of others. This, in turn, renders the others more insecure and compels them to prepare for the worst. Because no state can ever feel entirely secure in such a world of competing units, power competition ensues, and the vicious circle of security and power accumulation is on.” (b1,p22 Herz, 1950, p157)

In Herz’s early argument, it is the fear of being attacked and “self-preservation” that drives the state to maximise its power, while the human nature of peace or aggression does not matter so much to the security dilemma. Though did not speak explicitly, Herz’s security dilemma is unintentional since it arises from states’ accumulation of power due to fear and uncertainty. Moreover, in his 1951 work, Herz explored the relationship between power and security dilemma. (Herz, 1952, p200) by noting that they “works with more drastic force” and in a more “brutal form” without the supervising power. Meanwhile, the British historian Herbert Butterfield use the phrase “irreducible dilemma”(Butterfield cited in Booth and Wheeler,2008,p27) to describe a similar situation. Butterfield suggests that statesmen would be virtuous and may not use a harmful way to grantee their national interests. However, there is a “tragic element in human conflict”, thus “fear and suspicion”, that makes states fail to know each other’s counter-fear and regard “others’ subsequent reactions to those fears as sign of aggression”(Lee,2009), consequently, conflicts would break out. Robert Jervis’s plenty work on security dilemma has brought it to the mainstream though there is lack of a systematic definition. According to Tang,(2009), from different places, Jervis defined the security dilemma as follow: under the defensive intentions, a state’s action to increase its security would threaten the other state and then result in undesired consequence. Jervis emphasises the “anarchic context of international relations” and thinks human nature would have little effect on the security dilemma. Jervis’s “spiral model”,which generally refers to the “pursuit of self-defeating power by status quo states(Tan, 2007)” is a breakthrough work in the security dilemma studies. One breakthrough made by Jervis, according to Tan, (2007), is that he thinks there is possibility for states under security dilemma situation to move escape the fatalist logic of insecurity by perceive the defensive intention from each other.


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