Washington International Law Journal


For nearly forty years, the Republic of China on Taiwan (ROC), acting under the Kuo Min Tang (KMT), or Nationalist Party, and the People's Republic of China (PRC), acting under the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), have ruled separate provinces across the Taiwan Straits, each claiming legitimate rule over China. During that entire time, neither side rescinded its threat to use military force, and the mainland regularly shelled islands controlled by the ROC. Recent events, however, have significantly altered relations between the two Chinas. In 1987, immediately after the ROC government repealed martial law, Taiwan residents were allowed to visit the mainland for the first time. At about the same time, the ROC loosened restrictions on private business transactions and began to encourage academic and cultural exchange across the Straits. The result has been a significant improvement in private, unofficial relations between Taiwan and mainland China. This Comment analyzes two recent changes in ROC policy toward mainland China. First, despite its ideology, the ROC has adopted a more pragmatic approach to its colossal neighbor. This approach is embodied in a "noninterference" doctrine which allows Taiwan residents to engage in private, unofficial dealings with mainland Chinese, but forbids official, public contacts. Second, the ROC has begun to exploit academic, cultural and economic exchange across the Straits in an effort to convince mainlanders of the superiority of the ROC system over communism. This claim, that Taiwan is a blueprint for the mainland, represents a battle for the hearts and minds of Chinese people. It is also the ROC's last realistic hope that it represents the future path of China.

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