Author: Filip Grzegorzewski
E-mail: filippolska@gmail.com
Institution: University of Warsaw (Poland)
ORCID: https://orcid.org/filippolska@gmail.com
Published online: 30 January 2022
Final submission: 23 January 2022
Printed issue: March 2022
Source: Show
Page no: 16
DOI Address: https://doi.org/10.15804/ppsy202210
PDF: ppsy/51/ppsy202210.pdf

Strategic ambiguity, or the deliberate policy of uncertainty as to whether the United States would use force to defend Taiwan against an invasion by the People's Republic of China, has been the centrepiece of US policy towards the Taiwan issue for decades. This paper discusses the factors driving the redefinition of strategic ambiguity and its recalibration throughout Donald Trump's presidency (2017–2021). The fundamental driver of this change was to balance the rising power of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The paper applied offensive realism as a theoretical framework for its analysis. Under President Donald Trump, Washington modified its policy of strategic ambiguity, explicitly framing relations with Taiwan within a broader Indo-Pacific strategy. While the US retained key elements of strategic ambiguity, including the 'One China' policy, it added new features to deploy it offensively against Beijing's growing regional hegemony. The increased dynamism and unpredictability of relations with Taiwan were matched by a welcoming attitude towards strengthening Taiwanese identity and highlighting the systemic differences between communist China and democratic Taiwan. America stepped up arms sales and encouraged Taiwan to build its self-defence capabilities. Washington engaged in countering Chinese attempts to isolate Taiwan internationally and included it in restructuring global supply chains. Although the United States has not formally revised the boundaries of the 'One China' policy, the modification of strategic ambiguity increased Taiwan's prominence in US-China power competition and pushed back the prospect of peaceful unification.

REFERENCES:

  • Summary of the 2018 National Defense Strategy of The United States of America. (2018). https://dod.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/pubs/2018-National-Defense-Strategy-Summary.pdf
  • (2020, September 4). American institute in Taiwan. Forum on Supply Chain Restructuring: Improving Resilience Amongst Like-Minded Partners. https://www.ait.org.tw/forum-on-supply-chain-restructuring-improving-resilience-amongst-like-minded-partners
  • (2021, January). American Institute in Taiwan. GCTF Programs: https://www.ait.org.tw/our-relationship/global-cooperation-and-training-framework-programs-gctf/
  • Allison, G. (2017). Destined for war. Can America and China escape Thucydides’s trap?
  • Antonowicz, L. (1997). Status prawnomiędzynarodowy Republiki Chińskiej na Tajwanie. In E. Haliżak, Tajwan w stosunkach mię Warszawa.
  • Babones, S. (2020, December 14). China’s drive to make semiconductor chips is failing. Foreign Policy.
  • Bandow, D. (2021, April 15). Should we go to war for Taiwan? The American Conservative.
  • Bank, W. (2019, October). Tracking GDP in PPP terms shows rapid rise of China and India. https://blogs.worldbank.org/opendata/tracking-gdp-ppp-terms-shows-rapid-rise-china-and-india
  • Bernkopf Tucker, N. (2005). Dangerous Strait. The U.S.-Taiwan-China Crisis. Columbia University Press.
  • Bernkopf Tucker, N. (2009). Strait talk: United States-Taiwan relations and the crisis with China. Harvard University Press.
  • Bernkopf Tucker, N., & Glaser, B. (2011). Should the United States Abandon Taiwan? The Washington Quarterly, 34(4), 23–37.
  • Boon H. T. (2020). Strategic Ambiguity and the Trumpian approach to China-Taiwan relations. International Affairs, 96(6), 1487–1508.
  • Bush, R. (2004). The ordeal of dual deterrence: the United States between Taiwan and China. Oxford University Press.
  • Carr, E. (1962). The Twenty Years Crisis, 1919-1939: An introduction to the study of international relations.
  • Chen, D. P. (2012). S. Taiwan Strait Policy: The Origins of Strategic Ambiguity. First Forum Press.
  • Chen, D. P. (2017). US-China Rivalry and Taiwan’s Mainland Policy. Security, nationalism and the 1992 consensus.
  • Christensen, T. J. (2002). The contemporary security dilemma: Deterring a Taiwan conflict. The Washington Quarterly, 25(4), 5–21.
  • Copper, J. F. (2017). Understanding President Trump’s Taiwan Policy. American Journal of Chinese Studies, 24(2), 5–8.
  • (2021, January). Defense Security Cooperation Agency. https://www.dsca.mil/search/node?keys=Taipei
  • Duchatel, M. (2017, April). Taiwan between Xi and Trump. China Analysis, European Council on Foreign Relations.
  • Duchatel, M. (2021, January). Policy Paper. The weak links in China’s drive for semiconductors. https://www.institutmontaigne.org/en/publications/weak-links-chinas-drive-semiconductors#
  • Gladstone, R. (2019, July 11). Taiwan President Risks Infuriating China With U.S. Visit. New York Times.
  • Glaser, C. L. (2021, April 28). Washington is avoiding the tough questions on Taiwan and China. Foreign Affairs.
  • Grabowski, M. (2007). Problem Tajwanu w stosunkach amerykańsko-chińskich w latach 1949-2007. Politeja, 2(8).
  • Góralczyk, B. (2017). Geostrategia Xi Jinpinga. Od skromności do globalnej asertywności. Gdańskie Studia Azji Wschodniej, 11.
  • Haass, R. H. (2020, September 2). American support for Taiwan must be unambiguous. Foreign Affairs.
  • Haliżak, E. (2005). Zmiana układu sił USA – Chiny a transformacja porządku międzynarodowego. Żurawia Papers, 7, 55–83.
  • Haliżak, E. (2007). Polityka i strategia Chin w kształtowaniu międzynarodowego bezpieczeństwa. Żurawia Papers, 10, 81–84.
  • Heginbotham, E. (2017). The U.S.-China military scorecard. Forces, geography and the evolving balance of power, 1996-2017. Rand Corporation.
  • Hickey, D. (2020, December 3). The Diplomat. More and more Taiwanese favour independence and think the US would help fight for it. https://thediplomat.com/2020/12/more-and-more-taiwanese-favor-independence-and-think-the-us-would-help-fight-for-it/
  • Hung-jun Chen, H. J. (2020). 川普政府對中國武力威脅台灣的立場分析 (Analysis of the Trump Administration’s Position on the Military Threat of China Against Taiwan). In T. Wang, Debating on the US Strategy Towards Taiwan Strait: Strategic Clarity or Strategic Ambiguity (美國台海策略之辯:戰略模糊或戰略清晰) (pp. 44–52). Institute of National Defense and Security Research.
  • Jervis, R. (1976). Perception and Misperception in International Politics. Princeton University Press.
  • Kau, M. (1999). Clinton's "Three No's" Policy: A Critical Assessment. The Brown Journal of World Affairs, 6(2).
  • Lee, J., & Sheu, J. (2020). 李俊毅&許智翔,美國在台海採取‘戰略模糊’的可能論據與作爲 (The possible grounds of argument and actions of the adoption of “strategic ambiguity” towards the Taiwan Strait by the United States. In T. Y. Wang, Debating on the US Strategy Towards Taiwan Strait: Strategic Clarity or Strategic Ambiguity (美國台海策略之辯:戰略模糊或戰略清晰) (pp. 13–26). Defense Situation Special Edition.
  • Lee, M. (2017). Taiwan in Trump’s perspective: a bargaining chip? Asia Policy, 24.
  • Liao, G. (2020, August 24). Trump says ‘China knows what he will do’ if it invades Taiwan. Taiwan News.
  • Lin, P. C. (2020). 中國對美國‘戰略模糊’的看法與因應 (China’s view of U.S. ‘strategic ambiguity’ and its response). In T. Y. Wang, Debating on the US Strategy Towards Taiwan Strait: Strategic Clarity or Strategic Ambiguity (美國台海策略之辯:戰略模糊或戰略清晰) (pp. 67–80). Institute of National Defense and Security Research.
  • Mahbubani, K. (2020). Has China won? The Chinese Challenge to American primacy. Public Affairs.
  • Mearsheimer, J. (2014, March/April). Taiwan’s Dire Straits. The National Interest.
  • Mearsheimer, J. (2018). The Tragedy of Great Power Politics. Norton & Company.
  • Morgenthau, H. (1973). Politics among nations, the struggle for power and peace.
  • Mutual Defence Treaty between the US and the Republic of China. (n.d.). https://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/chin001.asp#art1
  • National Security Strategy of the United States of America. (2017, December). https://trumpwhitehouse.archives.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/NSS-Final-12-18-2017-0905.pdf
  • Łukasiewicz, P. (2016). Republika Chińska na Tajwanie - pytanie o status prawnomiędzynarodowy. Gdańskie Studia Azji Wschodniej, 10.
  • Pan, Z. Q. (2003). US Taiwan Policy of Strategic Ambiguity: a Dilemma of Deterrence. Journal of Contemporary China, 12(35), 387–407.
  • Power, J. (2020, February 5). US freedom of navigation patrols in South China Sea hit record high in 2019. South China Morning Post.
  • Schelling, T. (1966). Arms and Influence. Yale University Press.
  • Stokes, D. (2018). Trump, American hegemony and the future of the liberal international order. International Affairs, 94(1).
  • Sutter, R. (2006). The Taiwan Problem in the Second George W. Bush Administration—US officials’ views and their implications for US policy. Journal of Contemporary China, 15(48).
  • Taylor, B. (2019). Dangerous Decade: Taiwan’s Security and Crisis Management. The International Institute for Strategic Studies.
  • S. Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific. (2021, January). https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/IPS-Final-Declass.pdf
  • Waltz, K. N. (1979). Theory of International Politics. Waveland Press.
  • Wang, T. Y. (2020). 美國近期‘戰略清晰’主張與灰色地帶衝突 (The recent “strategic ambiguity” point of view of the United States and Grey Zone Conflict). In T. Y. Wang, Debating on the US Strategy Towards Taiwan Strait: Strategic Clarity or Strategic Ambiguity (美國台海策略之辯:戰略模糊或戰略清晰) (pp. 1–12). Institute of National Defense and Security Research.
  • Wang, T. Y. (2020, October). Debating on the US Strategy Towards Taiwan Strait: Strategic Clarity or Strategic Ambiguity (美國台海策略之辯:戰略模糊或戰略清晰). Defense Situation Special Edition, 1–80.
  • Xie, J. (2021, January 6). China Is Increasing Taiwan Airspace Incursions. Voice of America.
  • Zuo, X. (2019, December). Unbalanced deterrence: coercive threat, reassurance and the US-China rivalry in Taiwan Strait. The Pacific Review.

Message to:

 

 

© 2017 Adam Marszałek Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Projekt i wykonanie Pollyart