David vs. Goliath: Taiwan's Policy Toward China

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Traditional international relationship theorists hold a view that weak states must accept what strong ones have done. Recent literature has challenged this pessimistic view by presenting various strategic options to small states, including balancing, bandwagoning, and hedging. The antagonistic relationship between Taiwan and China shows how a small state confronts a menacing big power. Since the early 1990s, all four democratically elected governments in Taipei have adopted a hedging policy toward Beijing, a hybrid strategy combining both balancing and bandwagoning. The difference of the four administrations' policies lies in which of the two components occupies more weight in their respective hedging strategies. Three major factors have played a central role in determining Taipei's strategic choice: Cross-Strait power asymmetry, Washington's policy toward Taiwan, and domestic determinants. Because Beijing is likely to continue its aggressive and assertive behavior and Washington will adopt measures to counter China's rise, Taipei is expected to maintain its hedging strategy toward China. With public support, Taipei's Cross-Strait policy is likely to have a stronger balancing element.


This chapter was originally published as "David vs. Goliath: Taiwan's Policy Toward China," in an edited volume entitled Democratic Governance in Taiwan (Routledge, 2022). https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003314592.