“The Taiwan Tangle” by Alan D. Romberg is in the China Leadership Monitor, No. 18, Spring 2006. The China Leadership Monitor is sponsored by the Hoover Institution on War, Revolusion, and Peace at Stanford University.
On 27 February 2006, Taiwan’s president, Chen Shui-bian, announced that the National Unification Council created by Lee Teng-hui’s Kuomintang (KMT) administration in 1991 would “cease to function”, and that the National Unification Guidelines that the Council created would “cease to apply.” At the end of May, in response to the political crisis arising from insider trading allegations against his son-in-law and rumors of corruption on the part of his wife and close political associates, Chen “transferred power” to Premier Su Tseng-chang and said he would refrain from any activities apart from those specifically given to him by the constitution, which include foreign and national security policy and cross-Strait relations. This essay assesses the impact of these events on the complex triangular relationship between Beijing, Washington, and Taipei.