Wen Tianpeng and Chen Xing, Taiwan scholars at Nanjing University and Beijing Union University, respectively, explore the motivations behind what they perceive as a reorientation of Japan’s strategy vis-à-vis Taiwan and implications for Japan-China relations going forward. In their view, the dynamics of U.S.-Japan-China ties are driving Tokyo to depart from its traditionally “low profile” position on Taiwan. However, Wen and Chen argue that Japan’s strong economic ties to China will ultimately prevent it from revising its official “One China” policy.
Xiu Chunping, a Taiwan scholar at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, argues that China-Japan relations will deteriorate in the foreseeable future as a result of Tokyo’s growing interest in regional security, particularly in and around the Taiwan Strait. She argues that Japan is increasingly willing to provide greater and more explicit economic, diplomatic, and military support for Taiwan, and draws on a complex mix of historical, geopolitical, and domestic political factors to explain this perceived shift – including Japan’s colonial legacy in Taiwan, power shifts between Japan and China, and the work of “Taiwan independence forces.”
Cai Liang, a researcher focused on regional issues in Asia at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, argues that Japan is no longer maintaining purely unofficial relations with Taiwan that center around trade, investment, and cultural exchange. This is evident, Cai holds, in what he sees as Tokyo’s efforts to internationalize discussion of Taiwan and emphasize shared values. Cai attributes this perceived change largely to the dynamics of rising strategic competition between the United States and China.
Liu Jieyi, the former director of the Taiwan Affairs Office, expounds on the 20th Party Congress work report to distill Beijing’s overarching strategy for “reunification” with Taiwan. Liu argues it is important to “put [this strategy] into practice,” which includes suppressing voices in favor of Taiwan independence and what Liu terms “foreign interference schemes,” promoting cultural and educational exchange across the Strait, and refusing to renounce the use force to achieve “reunification.”
Zuo Xiying, one of China’s top experts on international security, examines evolving U.S. deterrence strategies in light of rising strategic competition with China. He argues that the gap in conventional deterrence capabilities between China and the U.S. is rapidly narrowing owing to China’s technological and military advances and what he sees as the decline of the U.S. industrial base. As a “stress reaction” to this perceived decline, Zuo argues U.S. policymakers have begun to discuss declining American conventional deterrence capabilities vis-a-vis China more frequently. Zuo warns that Beijing should approach shifts in relative capabilities cautiously, and recognize that the U.S. is expanding its “toolbox” of mechanisms that can be leveraged flexibly to deter China, particularly in the case of heightened tensions in the Taiwan Strait.
One of China’s most well-known scholars of American studies, Da Wei, argues that the United States and China need to reach a new strategic understanding about Taiwan in order to avoid a larger crisis. However, he suggests that this has become more difficult “because some of the long-term fundamentals underlying the Taiwan issue have changed,” including the deterioration in U.S.-China relations, the narrowing power gap between the United States and China, and the growing power gap across the Taiwan Strait.
A scholar of Taiwan and cross-Strait issues at Xiamen University lays out the “root causes” of the Taiwan Strait crises and argues that in the past 30 years, the PRC has improved its crisis management response. He advises Chinese leadership to pursue crisis management in the Taiwan Strait by continuing to cut Taiwan off from international institutions, arms sales, and diplomatic recognition and by using targeted escalation strategically to clarify China’s red lines to the international community.
Liu Jieyi, the former director of Taiwan Affairs Office who led the office at the time of this speech, spoke at a seminar on cross-Strait relations held in the wake of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. He emphatically recounts Beijing’s efforts towards “reunification” over the last decade and reaffirms the official Party line that “reunification” is integral to China’s goal of achieving “national rejuvenation.”
Liu Zhaojia, the vice president of the National Association for Hong Kong and Macau Studies argues that Beijing has moved towards its own position of “strategic clarity” on Taiwan policy following the publication of a dedicated white paper in August 2022 and the performance of a large-scale military exercise around the island following U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit. These developments, according to the author, make clear that Beijing “will not wait indefinitely for Taiwan’s return to China.” This departure from a “passive” stance by Beijing, Liu holds, will render the U.S. position of “strategic ambiguity” to be “no longer tenable” and force the U.S. to “clarify its intentions and plans” regarding Taiwan.
Published in the months leading up to Speaker Pelosi’s August trip to Taiwan, a scholar at a foreign ministry-backed think tank argues that “the Taiwan issue is the most important and sensitive core issue between the US and China,” and that in order to contain any “spillover” to the broader relationship, the two sides should focus on “confidence-building measures and crisis management cooperation.”