ABSTRACT

Taiwan’s 2016 elections brought bad news for Beijing’s Taiwan policy-makers. They were prepared for a DPP victory in the presidential race – that was predicted a year in advance. But the extent of the DPP’s success in the legislative elections surprised everyone, as did the KMT’s implosion. These results could hardly have been more unwelcome in Beijing, and the fact that the PRC’s Taiwan policy experts failed to anticipate them only makes the outcome worse. It is hard, in the face of these events, not to wonder: has China’s Taiwan policy failed? If China’s Taiwan policy is to make sure the KMT wins elections, it has failed. But if the policy is to prevent Taiwan from declaring independence, it clearly has not failed. The chapter first defines the PRC’s Taiwan policy. Only then is the question of its success or failure tackled. All too often, analyses of cross-Strait relations fail to differentiate among China’s goals, policy, strategy, and tactics. Even if these dimensions are disentangled, it is difficult to draw firm conclusions, but it is argued that China’s policy has not failed, yet. The strategies and tactics through which it is implementing that policy are failing in one sense – they are not advancing China’s ultimate (sufficient) policy objective of unification – but they are succeeding in another – they are advancing an important interim (necessary) goal, which is to deter moves toward formal independence.