Cover of Taiwan’s China Dilemma by Syaru Shirley Lin
Taiwan’s China Dilemma
Contested Identities and Multiple Interests in Taiwan’s Cross-Strait Economic Policy
Syaru Shirley Lin

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June 2016
304 pages.
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Cloth ISBN: 9780804796651
Paper ISBN: 9780804799287

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China and Taiwan share one of the world's most complex international relationships. Although similar cultures and economic interests promoted an explosion of economic ties between them since the late 1980s, these ties have not led to an improved political relationship, let alone progress toward the unification that both governments once claimed to seek. In addition, Taiwan's recent Sunflower Movement succeeded in obstructing deeper economic ties with China. Why has Taiwan's policy toward China been so inconsistent?

Taiwan's China Dilemma explains the divergence between the development of economic and political relations across the Taiwan Strait through the interplay of national identity and economic interests. Using primary sources, opinion surveys, and interviews with Taiwanese opinion leaders, Syaru Shirley Lin paints a vivid picture of one of the most unsettled and dangerous relationships in the contemporary world, and illustrates the growing backlash against economic liberalization and regional economic integration around the world.

About the author

Syaru Shirley Lin is a founding faculty member of the graduate program in Global Political Economy at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She received her A.B. from Harvard College and her Ph.D. from the University of Hong Kong. She was previously a partner at Goldman Sachs, where she was responsible for private equity and venture capital investments in Asia.

"This important book offers an interesting new perspective on the politics of Taiwan's evolving economic policy toward mainland China. The combination of a fresh theoretical approach—focusing on the role of national identity—and strong empirical analysis make Taiwan's China Dilemma a must-read for anyone interested in the dynamic cross-Strait relationship."

—Scott L. Kastner, University of Maryland, College Park

"On first glance, Taiwan's economic policies toward China look very confusing. An economic logic alone does not explain the range of policy choices. But once one looks through the lens of Taiwan's political identity, as Shirley Lin does in her Taiwan's China Dilemma, all becomes clear. This is an important book."

—Richard Bush, Brookings Institution

"Lin uses innovative theoretical constructs to show how national identity—defined as a dynamic, multidimensional social construct—shapes Taiwan's evolving economic policy toward mainland China. Borrowing from an eclectic range of approaches, Lin sidesteps static binaries and moves the study of cross-Strait economic relations onto new, more fruitful ground."

—Shelley Rigger, Davidson College

"Shirley Lin brings an exceptional skill set to this detailed, sophisticated and insightful study of relations across the Taiwan Strait. In great detail she traces two contradictory trends: the consolidation of a national identity in Taiwan and the contention among different players over the best approach to managing unavoidably deepening economic ties across the Strait. At its heart this is a study of the constraints that shape the process of rule-making in international relations."

—Thomas B. Gold, University of California, Berkeley