ABSTRACT

Taiwan’s identity reconstruction, characterized by self-denial of its conventional Chinese identity, has led to massive identity confusion within the Taiwanese people; it has also transformed the cross-Taiwan Strait relationship to the point where, despite Beijing and Washington’s joint efforts, the dispute has become even more difficult to resolve. By the end of Chen Shui-bian’s presidency in late May 2008, the crossTaiwan Strait relationship was characterized by increasing animosity. The aim of this chapter is to show how Taipei’s shifting self-identification and its struggle for diplomatic recognition, based on its self-identification, have complicated Taipei’s relationship with Beijing. The future of the cross-Taiwan Strait relationship is still full of uncertainty and unpredictability, although there has been some progress since the KMT won back power in 2008.1

In fact, Taiwan’s self-identification and international recognition had been problematized by Beijing’s continuous success in joining the international society as the sole legitimate government of China even before the end of the Cold War. The breakdown of Taipei’s diplomatic relationship with Washington and the Republic of

China’s (ROC hereafter) withdrawal from the UN in the 1970s caused a dramatic shift in the ROC’s international status. Taipei’s self-identification in relation to the mainland was shifted from “The ROC is the sole legitimate government of the Chinese nation, including both the mainland and Taiwan” to “Taipei and Beijing share China sovereignty as equals” and further to “Taiwan is sovereign and independent from China.” However, due to Beijing’s strong opposition to Taipei’s new position, Taipei’s newly defined identities failed to be recognized by international society, and the cross-Taiwan Strait relationship was further complicated and the confrontation intensified.