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The Evolution of the “One China” Concept in the Process of Taiwan' s Democratization

Discussion Papers

No.091

March 2007

ABSTRACT

This paper investigates how Taiwan’s “one China” concept evolved during the democratization process that occurred under the leadership of former President Lee Teng-hui. The author argues that there was a crucial evolution of the “one China” concept and that the transformation of the concept resulted from changes in Taiwan’s internal political circumstances. The evolution of the concept creates a real possibility that the “status quo” sought by the ROC in the Taiwan Strait both during and after the Cold War might be destroyed. In addition, any further evolution of the “one China” concept will surely make the “status quo” of Taiwan untenable, in that it would induce Taiwan to seek de jure instead of de facto independence, possibly initiating a conflict between the PRC and the ROC. To prevent such a conflict in the Taiwan Strait, the international community must persuade the ROC not to go beyond the “status quo” and to stay within the framework of de facto independence. At the same time, both the PRC and the ROC should be urged to maintain an open conduit of communication for productive talks on the reunification of China.

Keywords: One China, PRC, ROC, Taiwan, Democratization, Lee Teng-hui
JEL classification: Z

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