The likelihood of a military conflict in the Taiwan Strait,not soon but afterone or two decades,may be judged by answers to several questions:1)Will China'stop politicians discount the high cost of using force to assert their claim to Taiwan?(This may be unlikely until after the first decade of the new millennium ,butit more probably could happen after the year 2010.)

  2)At an earlier time ,in the near future ,do mutually beneficial termsexist for an interim truce across the strait,allowing a period of political evolutionon both sides that would enable a peaceful full settlement later?

  3)Even if mutually rewarding terms for such a truce exist,do the elitesin Taipei and Beijing have structures that can bring them actually to negotiateit?

  4)Would Taiwan's defense capabilities at each relevant time be able(or unable)to deter the most likely kind of attack against the island,which could perhapsbegin with marine mines and Beijing's announcement of an economic blockade?

  5)Would the United States help defend the island at those times,even ifChina evolves a more open political system and/or offers Taiwan conditions for aunification with autonomy that would be credibly enforceable and stable ?

  Leaders of the People's Republic of China (PRC )have never forsworn use ofthe People's Liberation Army(PLA )to assert their claim of ownership againstthe Republic of China (ROC )。This essay will argue,however,that fair termsexist for an interim truce lasting several decades.To give the reader a sense ofthis essay's direction,possible terms of such a truce can be suggested beforethe reasons for them are explored :The unofficial negotiating agencies of thetwo sides might agree that Taipei forswear declaring independence from China,andBeijing forswear pursuing force against Taiwan,for a long time(such as 50years)。To head off misunderstandings about truce violations,they could note a third party'slist of countries with which each side claims current diplomatic liaisons ,withoutfully legitimating these.The unofficial negotiating "foundations"could reaffirmtheir present commitments to continue talks toward further agreements.This essaywill also argue ,however,that crucial leaders in both Taiwan and China gainshort-term domestic political benefits from cross-straits tensions.So in practice,they are unlikely to negotiate even a temporary truce.Under these circumstances,the United States will probably help to defend Taiwan's democracy as such untileither Beijing also becomes democratic or offers Taipei very credibly enforceableterms under which Taiwan's democracy could be maintained within a unified China.But because of America's broader global interests —and major concrete interestsin the mainland's potential democracy —if Beijing offers Taipei terms for unificationwith practical autonomy that can be credibly enforced by multiple means includingthe island's army ,then America's leaders are likely to consider their commitmentto Taiwan fulfilled.The US premise that China and Taiwan will resolve their disputein peaceful negotiations,however,is increasingly na ?ve.So the US may be drawninto a war whose effect would be to keep Taiwan politically separate from China.That would be a disservice to America's larger democratic and security interests.Exploration of the five questions listed above will show the shape of this situation.1)Will China's Leaders Use Force to Continue their Taiwan Claim?

  This first question is easy to answer ,because Beijing's leaders have alreadyused force symbolically to assert this interest several times ,as in 1995and1996when they held military exercises and fired missiles near Taiwan.They oftenavow a national right to take Taiwan with force ,not just symbolically.Further,Beijing politicians predict in public that their influence over world politics willgrow in coming decades.Even though they no doubt exaggerate the rate of increaseof their power,in the long run they are probably right.China is finally "awakening,"as the adage says.The PRC now has an economy more than four times the size ofTaiwan's,expanding haltingly but quickly.It has a population 60times that ofthe island,and a territory more than 260times larger.The growth of China's economicproduct has been faster than of its military power,but China will become relativelystronger in the world during coming decades ,partly because of its economic size.Beijing leaders'proud expectation of this change is a basis for possible PRC patienceabout resolving its territorial claim on Taiwan.It is also the basis of a certaintyin Beijing that Taiwan must some day become part of the Chinese state.The timingand speed of China's future empowerment for specific purposes can be subject todifferent reasonable estimates.Many scholars -including some in both Beijing andTaipei -expect China to remain clearly unable to use force to assert its Taiwanclaim for more than a decade at least.Recent journalism in Taipei cites the date2010as a likely time of crisis in island-mainland relations.By about that time,many researchers of various political viewpoints think China's military shortcomingswill have changed to strength vis-à-vis Taiwan (though not vis-à-vis the UnitedStates)。China's ability to raise the non-military costs to countries aiding Taiwan—even if the PRC's own costs are greater —will also rise.,in Japan or Indonesia)could alter this prospectus somewhat.But by some period after 2010,China willbecome able to assert its Taiwan claim far more effectively than at present.Thiseffectiveness is delayed currently by specific military difficulties the PLA wouldface in winning a conflict it might start ,by US knowledge of the PRC's illiberalism,and by Taiwan's military and economic prowess.The near-certainty of China's future"superpower"status does not mean that the wishes of its leaders will then prevailautomatically.As the US discovered in Somalia and earlier in Vietnam ,superpowersare not always supremely effective.But Beijing's top politicians think over timethey will become increasingly capable of realizing their wishes in their own neighborhood.If China becomes relatively stronger and if PRC politics pluralizes ,other powerssuch as Japan and the US can be expected to weigh their overall interests in decidingwhether to commit resources to oppose Beijing then.The US will pay these coststo defend Taiwan's liberals irrespective of any increase of PRC strength,but notafter Chinese politics become more representative or the PRC offers Taiwan a dealfor political autonomy within China whose terms can be guaranteed by Taiwan's ownforces.Some on Taiwan hope that Beijing may eventually rescind its assertion thatthe island is Chinese.Taiwan nationalists cite the fact that post-revolutionaryRussians allowed the Soviet empire to break up,although few outside observershad predicted this.But barely half the people in the USSR were Russian.In China,over nine-tenths are ethnically Han —as are Taiwanese(by language ,kinship structure,religion,and other anthropological measures )。The chance that PRC elites willforget this is extremely low,now that they think their power will increase.Thisprediction that the China's claim will continue does not necessarily presume theCommunist Party will rule in Beijing for a long time.The Party may go on ,orit may be over.But practically all mainland elites -in government or in dissent-agree that Taiwan is Chinese.Very few in the PRC challenge this view.Taiwan'srecent democratization is seen by some mainland conservatives as a threat to theirown status that requires a continuance of Chinese claims to Taiwan.Mainland reformists,however ,may view Taiwan's democratization as important only if the island isChinese.Many in China are keenly envious of Taiwan's economic,political,andcultural successes.Taiwan's TV comedians and torch singers (e.g.,in the pastthe late Theresa Teng Li-ch ün )were surely worth an aircraft carrier group.But this PRC awareness of Taiwanese wealth and freedom probably undermines the CommunistParty ,more than it persuades mainlanders that Taiwan is not Chinese.State patriotismhas historically come in many forms ,and in China (like Germany,Russia ,andJapan )nationalism has generally been collectivist and authoritarian.In Taiwan,with its traditions of rough pioneering on an island that was put under rice cultivationby Hans only a few centuries ago without help from the Chinese state,authorityamong local leaders has been more individualistic than in north China especially.The Beijing-centrism of most PRC intellectuals,by contrast,strikes many Taiwaneseas a severe affliction.The Taiwanese people,according to a foreign scholar ,increasingly "detest the bigots from Beijing,who think that being born in theshadow of the Forbidden City gives them the right to boss around Chinese peopleeverywhere."About 1.2billion Chinese,however,do not live in Beijing ,eventhough attitudes in the PRC government scarcely reflect this fact.Popular mainlandviews as surveyed by questionnaires show that ordinary PRC citizens'views of state(guojia)and nation (minzu )are dividing very slowly.Nationalisms are allcontested ;and Liah Greenfeld shows they change because of "ressentiment,"aprocess by which one group envies what another has.If this drift in China is sluggishwhile PRC military strength rises ,war might win its race with envy.Chinese constructtheir national identity continuously and in many ways.Mainland entrepreneurs ,Southerners ,and just a few of China's dissidents (those who have given up hopesof careers in Beijing )press for unification with Taiwan less ardently than militarists,Northerners ,and statist intellectuals.Still ,this is mainly a difference ofapproach,a tactical disagreement rather than a strategic policy difference.Manyaspects of this issue about China's possible use of force against Taiwan can berephrased in a question about domestic PRC politics.Will growth-oriented reformistsOR patriotic conservatives dominate in Beijing?This factor seems to vary overtime,and it is likely to set the maximum terms that Beijing will consider forunification.When such terms are sufficiently favorable to peace,they could giveTaiwanese leaders a chance to solve the island's security problem.Alternatively,at a time when Beijing's xenophobic conservatives may be in power ,this factorcould mean blockades,the mining of ports,and other attacks against Taiwan.Thedirect costs of such actions by the PLA may be decreasing ,and the less certainbut high indirect costs may be irrationally discounted by PRC leaders who are ferventpatriots.This variable could be sufficient to bring long-term(25+years )Chinesesovereignty on Taiwan ,although it would not do so in the short term(c.5+years)。

  Reformists are currently in charge of PRC practical administration.PresidentJiang Zemin heads a rather uncharismatic group of technocrats ,and Premier ZhuRongji's most public interests are economic.Taiwan raises issues of patriotic identity,however.These leaders are rationalists ,and they may have some tendency to delayunification with Taiwan until they think the process can be cost-effectively engineered.But some authorities in Beijing or their patrons in the PLA could underestimatethe costs of war against Taiwan.Nationalistic zealotry (which among the classiczealots led to deaths at Masada )is also evident in statements by fervent Taiwanesenationalists.Vilfredo Pareto ,in his work about the circulation of elites,explainswhy a distinction between hardline conservatives and flexible reformers is a hardyperennial of all politics.Lion-vs.-fox politics is not limited to economic andtechnical matters ;it also affects identity.Growth-oriented PRC reformist elites(Southern,local-entrepreneurial,and some technocratic leaders)may come torepresent a greater diversity of their huge country.If that process continues,Taiwan might later be able to get along well with a mainland stronger than itself.These are the most probable eventual conditions of peace,and negotiations forit is most likely when the Beijing side is composed of technocratic reformists.If so ,the next question would concern the presence or absence of conceivablespecific terms.2)Do Mutually Beneficial Terms Exist for a Preliminary Truce ?

  On the mainland ,most people are not eager for a war against Taiwan.On theisland,roughly four-fifths of the people wish to leave the question of Chineseor Taiwanese ultimate sovereignty undecided for a long time.These stances are compatiblewith a temporary truce between Taipei and Beijing ,by which the mainland wouldnot pursue force while the island would not pursue independence during a cooling-offperiod.Their unofficial foundations might agree to note a third party's list ofcurrent diplomatic ties (without legitimating these formally ),so that neitherside could later claim the other was breaking the truce because of old diplomacy.Cross-straits negotiations on all other topics could be more fruitful if a "timeout"were called on both the island's implicit threat of non-Chinese sovereigntyand the mainland's military threat.If a truce were to be negotiated,which agenciescould do that ?For once ,the answer is easy :Unofficial foundations representingeach side already exist ,and they regularly contact each other(often by fax)。They can do so only because they studiously avoid all questions of sovereignty anddipomatic status.They are the PRC's nominally non-governmental Association forRelations Across the Taiwan Strait(ARATS ),and the ROC's "private"Straits ExchangeFoundation(SEF )。In bargaining for a temporary truce,as in negotiating thepractical matters with which ARATS and SEF have previously dealt,questions aboutformal titles ,flags,and status have to be postponed.Such a truce would beformally unenforceable in any court —but that would not at all vitiate its politicaland military usefulness.(Several arms limitation treaties of global importanceremain unratified and are legally invalid ,but their texts despite that handicaphave mostly determined what happens in practice.)To strengthen moderates in bothBeijing and Taipei,and to develop a more pragmatic and less symbolic approachto the problem of preventing a war in the foreseeable future,SEF and ARATS mightagree that:The Beijing side would not pursue major military force to assert itsclaim to Taiwan for several decades (e.g.,50years ),and the Taipei side wouldforswear declaring non-Chinese independence on Taiwan during that same period.Thetwo foundations might also note ,without approving,an unofficial neutral party'slist of the diplomatic liaisons their authorities currently claim.They would permitthat this agreement might later be modified by further interim agreements betweenthe two foundations in the course of the ongoing discussions to which they are alreadycommitted.Such a truce would be most easily negotiable if not further detailed.It would also ,however,be less subject to later sabotage by go-for-broke militaristsin China or by go-for-broke separatists on Taiwan if it could include provisionsabout advance notice of military exercises.PRC softliners might want to make clearthat Taiwan autonomists could not alone decide when China had used force,convertinga minor or accidental event into a major cause for Taipei action that Beijing wouldregard as secession.Similarly,the arrangement would be more stable if ARATS andSEF could agree ,at least tacitly ,that Beijing and Taipei would not encroachon each other's present diplomatic links.Thus PRC hardliners could not later claimthat the ROC's current level of diplomacy amounts to a declaration of independencefrom China—just as during the truce,the Taiwan hardliners would be restrictedfrom making such a declaration.It would not be necessary to do more,as regardsthis symbolically sensitive but practically minor sovereignty-related issue ,thanto take note together of a third party's(maybe some neutral academic's )previouspublication of a simple list of the current diplomatic posts of each side.The twofoundations could decide that ,for the sake of peace and further negotiationsbetween each other,self-restraint against changing this situation would be mutuallybeneficial.In many respects,this truce proposal differs from harder-to-negotiatesettlement plans that have been suggested by Kenneth Lieberthal and by Joseph S.Nye ,Jr.This truce would be agreed by the officially unofficial foundations,not by the governments whose pride in stately symbols still prevents any diplomaticcontact between them.This proposal formally suggests mutual undertakings only fora specified period,an interim truce rather than a final deal.The current cross-straitproblem is that Beijing leaders have not explicitly agreed to a real confederationyet ,and Taipei leaders have not explicitly agreed to irrevocable Chinese unificationyet.This truce would practically —though not explicitly —assure the emergenceafter fifty years of a Chinese confederation retaining full democracy at least onTaiwan;so it would meet each side's main substantive demands,which each side'spoliticians are still too awed by sovereign emblems to serve effectively.The mostcrucial aspect of the truce would be the long-time-future date.From Taipei's viewpoint,its role would be like the 1997expiry of the New Territories lease ,which arbitrarilydelayed Beijing's moment for implementing another claim.The PRC has been througha violent revolution,and the respite would allow more time for Chinese politicsto change.From Beijing's viewpoint ,a far-distant date would also allow timefor Taiwan's warring politicians to gain more distance from the memory of ChiangKai-shek's repression ,which still gives some impetus to ardent separatism amongTaiwanese leaders whom Chiang imprisoned,repressed,or exiled.Such a date wouldalso suggest(though not explicitly ensure)a definite remote occasion when somekind of unification would be probable ,because of China's likely global strengthat that time.Actually,this will be a fact to affect both the island and the mainlandthen—with or without a truce.Beijing's undertaking in this proposal would be nomore than President Jiang Zemin's motto that "Chinese do not attack Chinese"—exceptthat it would be uttered in this case by ARATS in assurance to SEF as a Taiwan representative,not just to a mainland audience.Peace is ,however,against the interests ofhardliners in Beijing who insist in a surreal fashion (despite the evidence oftheir eyes)that Taiwan has no proper government.Among the PRC elite,symbolicinterests concerning Taiwan have often tended to overwhelm concrete interests.WhenGeorge Bush announced a major sale of F-16aircraft to Taiwan (while on the campaigntrail in Texas,where these planes are made),the PRC reaction was surprisinglylow-key even though China's concrete interests in Taiwan were set back by Bush'saction.But when Lee Teng-hui received a tourist visa to visit his alma mater ata hard-to-reach city in upstate New York,the PRC cancelled the American visitof State Councillor Li Guixian,recalled the Chinese air force commander and hisdelegation halfway through their major tour of the US ,postponed indefinitelya meeting of Chinese and American legal experts ,and summoned US Ambassador StapletonRoy to the Foreign Ministry in Beijing to lodge a strong protest,demanding a reversalof the visa decision and warning that US-PRC relations were endangered at all levels.The F-16s were a concrete threat—and their military effectiveness delays China'sTaiwan claim even though Bush suggested otherwise.But the symbolism of the touristvisa brought a much greater PRC reaction.Lee's trip was not a pragmatic move forTaiwan,although the warplane purchase surely was.Taipei's undertaking in thistruce is no more than the assurances against any open declaration of Taiwan independencethat both KMT and DPP politicians have often expressed to security-conscious Taiwanvoters—except that in this case it would be uttered to ARATS as a mainland representative.Peace is nonetheless opposed in Taipei by two kinds of symbolists :a small minoritywho insist that Taiwanese must never consider the option of concurrently being Chinese,and very many who irrationally overestimate the value of continued ROC demands fordiplomatic "breathing space ,"even though this effort has now become totally irrelevantto Taiwan's security.Taiwan on legal grounds qualifies to be a state under a Viennaconvention—but this is irrelevant to the fact that most countries for political,non-legal ,and amoral reasons (especially China's size )recognize the PRC.Taipei's truly pragmatic diplomacy is with Washington and Beijing ,not with Tegucigalpaand Ouagadougou.Taiwan will not be saved by Chad (which has recognized the ROC)。Taiwan is not greatly threatened by the Cook Islands(which has recognized the PRCdespite much weeping and gnashing of teeth in Taipei)。Taiwan's mainstream politicians,both KMT and DPP,talk mainly about shadows of sovereign autonomy rather than concreteguarantees of practical autonomy.Since the contradiction between these will probablylast longer than it takes for the PRC to gain in economic and military strength ,these politicians misrepresent the people of their island ,who in surveys wantno war,a multiple identity,and guarantees of future freedom.Both ROC and PRCleaders have on several occasions suggested conditions for peaceful unification ,of which the most interesting from Beijing were published early in the 1980s.Thefirst of these rather vague proposals came in a 1981statement by PLA Gen.Ye Jianying.Ye's "nine points"provided that Taiwan could maintain its army after unification.Ye mentioned no particular reason for this separate army.But the adequate availabilityof Taiwan-controlled means on the island,to enforce any other agreed points ,would certainly increase Taiwan's incentive to accept other aspects of a negotiatedpackage.Actually ,Taipei does not need Beijing's permission for an army on theisland,since it already has one there.But Taipei could well use recognition fromBeijing of the existence of its military,which is a crucial basis for Taiwan'sparticipation in cross-straits talks on any other topic.If a military truce cannotbe negotiated ,no other agreement will be regarded on Taiwan as long-lasting.Deng Xiaoping in 1983suggested "six points"for this negotiation.As he grew older,Deng said that his eyes would not close until Taiwan was unified with China.Finally,they closed anyway.Before Deng's death ,President Jiang Zemin in 1995announcedanother list of "eight points."These precluded Taiwan independence or "two Chinas,"although recent clarifications from Beijing have hesitantly suggested that the"one China"might be something like a happy Buddha of the future,not necessarilyidentical with the present PRC.(Hardliners,who make most statements from Beijingabout "one China,"identify it with the PRC.Quite inconsistently,however,otherPRC statements have probed Taiwan's possible acceptance of the view that the "oneChina"might be a future one—and have received not much response from Taiwan forlocal political reasons.)

  President Jiang has said he would negotiate with "Taipei authorities on anytopic of their concern"and suggested "consultation on an equal basis soon."Jiangsaid that "Chinese do not attack Chinese"and that only separatists and foreignersshould be attacked.Taiwan's "autonomy"within China was promised ,although inan overture for peaceful unification with Taiwan that word would have to mean somethingnotably different than it does,for example,in Hong Kong.More important ,becausethe PRC is now relatively stronger than it was in Ye's time ,were Jiang's undertakingsthat Taiwan could "also retain its armed forces and administer its party,governmentaland military systems by itself"and that Beijing "will not station troops or sendadministrative personnel."The PRC proposal for Taiwan's "system"is unlike the"system"in Hong Kong ,although neither Beijing or Taipei has emphasized this.There seems to be a sufficiently clear understanding in Beijing ,among any leaderswho may not look forward to a war over Taiwan ,that Taipei will not give up itsmilitary soon.Jiang suggested that using force would not be the ideal PRC tacticfor unifying China.Shortly after Jiang's statement ,Taiwan Premier Lien Changave a speech calling for gradual unification as differences in politics and economiclevels between "the two shores"are slowly reduced.Two months later,PresidentLee Teng-hui issued a similar "six point"statement that called for building confidencebetween the two sides by expanding contacts in functional fields and at internationalmeetings.But he apparently did not instruct SEF to test whether Jiang's representativesin ARATS would use their leader's undertakings as the basis for an unofficial truce—and some evidence suggests that Jiang's Taiwan policy was opposed by hardlinersin the PLA,especially Adm.Liu Huaqing and Gen.Zhang Zhen.The grant of a USvisa to Lee brought Beijing-Taipei contacts to a temporary halt.Chinese naval andmissile exercises were the news of the following year.The two leaderships acrossthe strait trust each other not at all,although the "masses"under them are notmutually acrimonious.What identity do most people on Taiwan actually want?Carefulopinion surveys among the mostly nonintellectual and nonpolitician majority on Taiwansuggest that about one-fifth of all people there want independence(either immediatelyor later),but less than one-tenth want independence as soon as possible.Anotherfifth want the status quo now but unification with China later,although very fewwant unification right away.Another fifth want a permanent continuance of Taiwan'scurrent situation ,i.e.,a nationally uncommitted but practical kind of autonomy.The most popular specific option,garnering one-quarter in an early 1997surveyand as much as two-fifths in 1995and 1996and a later 1997survey,is to maintainthe status quo now and to make a definite decision about Chinese or Taiwanese identitylater.The Taiwanese increasingly see themselves as such,even though most of themalso want to defer their eventual decision about political nationality.The truceterms proposed above would serve the will of this largest plurality ,allowingthem to decide without a war but in light of China's growing relative power andafter a term of more confident autonomy than they will have without a truce.Theconcerns of many Taiwanese about unification are explicitly linked to their incomes,whose average is much higher than on the mainland.Military security is inextricablefrom their practical interest in economic security.Business interests on Taiwanhave "moved an unwilling state"toward more accommodation with China.But intellectualsin both Taiwan and the PRC(for opposite reasons)talk mainly about abstract patrioticideals,not daily life.They glorify identity(rentong )。When intellectual researcherssurvey the ways most Taiwanese actually identify themselves ,they admit theirdistress at the careful reticence of the modal answer.Most on the island are willingto be politically part-time Chinese ,so long as that choice cannot hurt them;but they have also in recent years become more distinctively Taiwanese.Taiwan voters'interests are far less abstruse than educated writers'discourses imply.A Taipeitaxi driver in 1997put his doubts about unification in terms of welfare more thanidentity:"We have had the experience of being taken over once by bandits [he meantChiang Kai-shek's army],and we will not allow it to happen a second time.Whathas the mainland done for us?Nothing.What we have built up here,we have doneby ourselves."When Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party has won some elections,its candidates(like those of the KMT )have run largely on administrative andanti-corruption issues.But the DPP was originally pro-independence —and the KMThas also been increasingly pro-autonomist.The DPP has no electoral interest eitherin changing its history or in presenting itself as provocative to the mainland.For Taiwanese ,Chinese identity remains a live option if they wish to choose it,not mainly because of their politically ambiguous pre-1895southern Chinese history,but because most Taiwanese saw their daily lives modernize for three decades afterthe mid-1950s under a Chinese regime.The DPP leader Hs üHsin-liang has a son whochose to study at Peking University.Taiwan autonomists seldom deny that their heritage(xuetong )is Chinese.But unless they are defeated militarily,they will notgive up their current freedoms.A future Taiwan government could conceivably agreeto some form of unification with Beijing,while also declining to throw peacefuladvocates of separatism into jail.The island's politicians often suggest that Taiwanshould above all refuse to forswear the symbols of their state.But sovereigntyis not food to eat.It shelters nobody from the rain.The main external protectorof the ROC is not among the nations that recognize it.If Taipei decided for practicalreasons to compromise symbols of sovereignty at least temporarily —but not to disownits control of an army sufficient to assure that "Taiwan people will rule Taiwan,"as Beijing says —then the island's people would benefit if that meant at leasta long-term peace.The Taiwan Relations Act ,a domestic US law,would be unaffected.The whole issue can be largely reduced to a question about domestic politics,thistime in Taiwan.Will Taiwanese-only OR Chinese-Taiwanese self-identification prevailon the island ?Nobody but Taiwanese can decide whether they will also be Chinese.In practice ,however,it is more useful to phrase the issue facing them not solelyin terms of existential choices ,but also in terms of unintended situations thataffect the results of these choices.Just as economic development is likely to diversifymainland politics more than Party conservatives wish,also the island's peoplecould more attentively heed the external context of their decisions about theirnational identity.Most intellectuals willfully downplay evidence that cognitivedetermination is not all-powerful.But ordinary Taiwanese (like ordinary PuertoRicans,in a fascinating comparative case)allow non-normative considerationsto play a partial role in their political identification.The DPP was founded tosupport Taiwan's independence.The center of its green-and-white party flag showsan outline map of Taiwan.When a party spokesman once was asked whether this meantthe DPP was uninterested in China ,he coyly replied that when the KMT governmentrecovered the mainland,his party would put an outline map of China in the middleof its flag.The DPP,for the National Assembly elections of 1991,had a platformfavoring declaration of a Republic of Taiwan.In the island-wide election in 1992,the DPP manifesto became just slightly more abstract,favoring "One China,OneTaiwan."The KMT platform that same year,however,began unambiguously:"We insistthat there is only one unified China……"But neither of these themes played flawlesslyon the stump,where most people were sensibly concerned about the mainland threatand actually had pride in being both Chinese and Taiwanese.Electoral competitionin the mid-1990s,in the context of Taiwan's security problem,caused the publicpolicies of the two largest parties to converge.As late as February 1995,a DPPconvention agreed without a formal vote that the party should "continue to advocatethe declaration of a Republic of Taiwan."But Party workers soon suggested thatin order to win more electoral victories,the DPP would have to moderate this position.They called for a revised party platform,asserting instead the "irrefutable factthat Taiwan is an independent country"already.Nobody openly disagrees that "Taiwanpeople will rule Taiwan."The devil is not in that principle.It is perhaps noteven in the details —but in a lack of will among the politicians of both Beijingand Taipei to seek support on more practical grounds than notions of identity andsovereignty.Large surveys of Taiwan's citizens in 1992,1993,and 1996(shortlyafter one of the PLA exercises)asked two questions aiming to separate the ethnic-normativebases of their political identities from pragmatic-situational bases.The questionswere:1)Some people think that if Taiwan after independence could maintain apeaceful relationship with the Chinese Communist government ,then Taiwan shouldbecome an independent country —do you agree?And 2),Some people favor the ideathat if Taiwan and China were to become comparably developed economically ,socially,and politically ,then the two sides of the strait should be united into one country—do you agree?Responses could be cross-tabulated.An increasing minority (one-tenthin 1992,one-fifth in 1996)both opposed unification even after future PRC politicalchange and favored Taiwan's independence if the island could avoid war with themainland.A sharply decreasing portion of the respondents (41percent in 1992,but 17percent in 1996)both favored unification after PRC political change andopposed Taiwan independence even if the island could remain safe.An increasinglylarge plurality (27percent in 1992,39percent in 1996)had a totally pragmaticnational identity ,favoring Chinese reunification after cross-strait disparitieswere lessened ,but also favoring Taiwan independence if this could be safe.Thismost popular view in 1996is just part-time-patriotic ,for either China or Taiwan.National existentialists of either type are aghast at it.But why should ordinarypeople support state elites more than themselves?This "unprincipled"view is moresensitive to Taiwan's rich history and current security needs than anything offeredby statespeople on either side of the strait.3)Can Taipei and Beijing LeadersActually Negotiate a Truce?

  The cautious centrism of Taiwan's electorate caused Taipei leaders to moderatetheir stances in the mid-1990s,but it also caused them to press for consensusagainst any decision that would embarrass any of them.In the first direct presidentialelections in 1996,a fuzzy position assured Lee Teng-hui,who is Taiwanese butis also the candidate of the party that can most easily claim to represent stability,a big electoral win.The main effect of China's missile tests near Taiwan ,justbefore the ballot ,may not have been to move voters away from the DPP candidatePeng Ming-min (whose staff had privately and accurately reported long before themissiles that they expected to lose up to one-third of their usual local supportersin the presidential race,where security issues are vital)。China's saber-rattlingexpressed to Taiwan's voters the PRC view that independence could not be attained.But this threat also soon brought KMT and DPP politicians together in a promiseto each other that,in effect,they would reach no serious agreement with Beijing.In December ,1996,President Lee called leaders from Taiwan's various partiesto a "National Development Conference on Cross-Strait Relations."The consensusdocument from this conference stipulated that "The [KMT]government should strengthenthe mechanisms by which opposition political parties……can fully participate inmajor policy decisions regarding relations with the Chinese mainland."This promiseby the KMT to the DPP almost surely scuttles in advance any kind of truce with themainland,even on the uncertain premise that Beijing would agree to terms thatwould benefit the interests of Taiwan's people.Lee has apparently decided a priorithat his ruling party should assure the electorate it will not rule on this politicalidentity issue.He has given the DPP(and perhaps even the small Taiwan IndependenceParty ,which is also an opposition party,if this document is credible )vetopower over any important agreement with China.The ROC president has thus inadvertentlyassured Beijing hardliners that they can never lose on the Taiwan issue in theirdomestic PRC politics.He has suggested to reformers that they have nothing to gainin Beijing politics thorough espousal of generous policies toward Taiwan.AlthoughLee speaks in favor of current negotiations and eventual reunification,his 1996policy of minority consent to any major island-mainland agreement suggests thatthese talks would not lead to any military armistice,even a temporary one ,muchless a political settlement.This policy of minority consent in Taipei is the mostdocumentable reason why war is eventually probable over Taiwan.The undocumented,secret positions of mainland militarists may well overdetermine that same bellicoseresult.Statist intellectuals in China tend to demonize Lee as a traitor.They areright to say that he disconfirms his own public statements for reunification byhis public promises to Taiwan separatists.They also are right to suggest that mostTaiwanese people are less sure than many Taiwanese politicians about the benefitsof forswearing Chinese identity.But they are wrong to suggest that Lee Teng-huias an individual is responsible for the difficulty in reaching a PRC-ROC accord.Most other politicians on the island either have similar views or have been toofrightened by the intensity of separatist sentiment to talk seriously about thesecurity problem.Chen Shui-bian,who is the most likely DPP candidate for presidentdespite his defeat for re-election as Taipei's mayor,has recently tried not toprovoke the PRC ,but Chen is widely perceived as favoring permanent independence.The ROC Constitution specifies that any presidential candidate with a pluralitywins;so Chen stands some chance of election if KMT factions split.The most likelynext KMT candidate,Vice-President Lien Chan ,was asked in an interview by thisauthor about his "family."Lien proudly noted that one of his paternal ancestorshad come to Taiwan along with the early entrepreneur-warlord Koxinga.He downplayedthe fact that his mother was a mainlander ,admitting this only after it was mentionedto him.Electoral politics deeply affects what all leaders on Taiwan say.They needto persuade voters that they will protect the incomes and freedoms of Taiwan peoplefrom the uncertain future posed by the scary power across the strait.PresbyterianPresident Lee is still remembered for likening himself to "Moses leading his peopleout of Egypt"—a liberation the PLA might prefer to perform.Lee Teng-hui speaksfor unification ,but with such extended delays that he often sounds like a permanentautonomist."There is no need to declare 'independence,'"Lee remarked in 1997.In another 1997speech,Lee said ,"In our pursuit of national unification,weare concerned [that]Taiwan ,the Chinese mainland ,Hong Kong,and Macau mustbe united under the principles of democracy ,freedom,and equitable prosperity."Whether President Lee's gradualism really amounts to separatism (as most PRC elitesand some independence-minded Taiwan elites like to believe,for opposite reasons),he mainly favors slowness.Sociologist Hsiao Hsin-huang rightly says Lee hasa "deferral agenda."As a ROC official spokesman admitted ,the Taiwanese "generalpublic did not understand the real content of the policy 'no haste,be patient.'This will require more public education."In fact ,the island's people are aheadof their leaders.Taiwanese can reasonably ask whether a solution to Taiwan's long-termsecurity problem should depend so exclusively on slow developments elsewhere,acrossthe water.The current ROC policy evades Taiwan's most obvious need ,which islong-term peace.Procedures for dealing with hijackers,issuing visas,handlingfinancial transfers ,and cross-strait investment are all very helpful.But becausethere is no trust between political elites on the two sides ,these amenities areless important than the danger of war that important leaders on each side have interestsin not facing.When statespeople emphasize only economic and pragmatic confidencebuilding,but do not negotiate to get concrete means to maintain that confidence,they are not yet solving their main problem.The KMT Central Policy Council in 1996commissioned a group to write a "draft peace accord"with the PRC.This includeda clause that separatism might be "diffused"(huajie)。Nothing,however,latercame from this initiative.What has caused this arthritis in the capacity of Taiwan'sgovernment to make a mainland policy that will assure the island's security ?

  Perhaps democratization is to blame ,but a more specific cause of this paralysisis a mix of past KMT dictatorship with the current principle of representation;memory of Chiang Kai-shek's restraint of Taiwanese politicians still inflames discourseon the island.Coalition dynamics within both major parties make mainstream KMTand DPP leaders unwilling to alienate a minority of strongly autonomist voters infavor of a larger number of less certain voters who would condone unification withthe mainland under some conditions.Taiwan people's knowledge of past PRC state-fosteredviolence(especially the Cultural Revolution)and the continuing fact that manykinds of mainland Chinese are poorly represented in Beijing are further factorsthat disincline most of the islanders from wanting unification any time soon.Veryfew DPP or KMT politicians are willing to moot political arrangements with Beijing,even for distant future times ,except in private.The probability of an all-partyconsensus ,even for a temporary truce with the mainland ,is near zero.I havebeen able to raise the truce proposal directly in conversations with governmentfigures on Taiwan (the Vice-President,the Premier,and the KMT and MAC chairmen—and thanks go to all of them for making time for this in their busy schedules )。But there was no clear response.Even a prominent and ardently autonomist DPP senatordid not fully reject the truce idea ,perhaps because it does not absolutely forsweara possibility of Taiwan independence after fifty years.But he doubted(perhapsrightly )that the mainland would agree to it.Taiwan autonomists "hope againsthope"that China after half a century will not be much stronger in the world thanat present.But they suspect otherwise,and they know this presents a securityproblem.All the KMT respondents were plainly more afraid of the DPP than of thePLA.Several opined that even an agreement with the mainland not to take actions(as in this proposed truce ),although that would constitutionally require nonew ROC legislation ,would still have to pass Taiwan's Legislative Yuan.The 1996inter-party consensus document apparently trumps the ROC constitution.Such a norm,so long as it is adhered to ,ties the hands of Taipei's negotiators so tightlythat no real accord with the mainland is conceivable.Beijing will minimally demandat least the possibility of a Chinese future for Taiwan ,and Taipei's minorityof determined separatists will veto that.Would a serious truce also be a non-starterin Beijing?It has not been possible for this foreigner to make the same interviewsat similar levels in the mainland's less open system.PRC militarists almost surelyoppose a truce because their budgets and political influence would be lessened bypeace.For Beijing hardliners ,the Taiwan issue provides hardy perennial support.Some leaders stress that Taiwan's "unreasonable"delay in negotiating unificationwill justify using force(although part of this delay probably derives from thetime necessary to improve backward elements of China's military technology)。IfBeijing's main interest is to make room to pressure Taiwan,rather than to maximizethe chance of peaceful unification with Taiwanese whom mainlanders regard as Chinesetoo ,then Beijing will reject a truce.Do the leaders there prefer Leninist centralism,or do they prefer unification with people who at some point might willingly be Chinese?They have been ambiguous about this.Nothing here should be read to imply that onlythe Taipei elites are responsible for the likelihood of war in the strait.If awar begins,it will surely come from the PRC side.Missile tests have already gesturedas much ,more than once ,at a low level of violence whose importance is onlysymbolic.This syndrome is likely to continue ,and it could escalate.Reiterationsof rage often occur in identity wars,as is shown by other tribal conflicts(Israel/Palestineand Serbia/Kossovo are among the many examples)。The mere availability of rationallybalanced solutions to such feuds does not end them.They stop only when ,withineach camp simultaneously,softliners prevail over hardliners who benefit from thecontinuing tensions.Potential accommodationists probably exist in both camps(the president or premier of the PRC and any of the four top KMT politicians mightconceivably be among them )。But they have thus far done nothing in public tohelp each other across the strait.Conditions for a truce exist ,but it probablywill not be achieved by Taipei and Beijing because some leaders in both capitalsbenefit from prolonging cross-strait friction.Before leaving this topic,it isnecessary for the sake of comprehensiveness to mention six exogenous factors thatcould affect the chances of success in a SEF-ARATS negotiation.For lack of spacehere,these can only be listed in the form of very short questions.First,willa potentially truce-seeking Beijing reformist leadership happen to emerge at thesame time as a potentially Chinese Taipei regime,given the separate courses ofpolitics in those two capitals?Second ,will Korea's unification process be smoothenough to make fair terms for China's seem credible (even though both Beijing andTaipei deny any similarity between these cases)?Third,will Japan exercise itsability to build a much stronger armed force?Fourth ,will China's relationswith Indonesia or other Southeast Asian nations affect the PRC-ROC dispute(as conflictsover miniscule reefs in the South China Sea have already been used to rationalizea PLA navy build-up that is actually more important for the much larger island ofTaiwan)?Fifth,will increased anti-Han separatist politics in Xinjiang,Ningxia,Inner Mongolia or Tibet create more fears in Beijing about China's potential fragmentation?Sixth ,might Beijing later react to dissent in Hong Kong in ways that affect theevolution of Beijing-Taipei relations ?None of these six exogenous issues —andnot even the Asian financial crisis —is likely to affect war or peace over Taiwanas much as the two more important political factors mentioned above :hardlinersor reformists in Beijing,and national existentialists or moderates in Taipei.Of course ,the military balance and its future changes will also affect deterrenceor war in the strait.4)Can Taiwan's Army Defend the Island?

  Taiwan's current military strength probably assures the ROC's autonomy for afew years into the future.Further additions to Taiwan's defenses might extend thatperiod—and would allow more time in which political changes might allow truce termsbetween Taipei and Beijing.But the military-economic balance will almost certainlytip in the PRC's favor after a decade or two.Barring a totally unexpected changein defensive technology that would raise its effectiveness for all modern armies,this advantage for Beijing is likely to become decisive in the long run.Taipeihas been unable to produce all the equipment it needs for effective defense ,andthere is no prospect this situation will change.Foreign weapons procurement hasbeen vital for Taiwan —and very expensive.One estimate of the budget for thesepurchases abroad in the mid-1990s runs at an annual rate of more than three timesthe total domestic costs of maintaining Taiwan's military.The foreign shoppinglist has included missiles of many kinds,jet fighters ,helicopters,early warningairplanes ,anti-submarine weapons ,and frigates.With the Cold War ended,defenseindustries in many nations(the US,France ,Singapore,Israel ,and others )have wanted to make sales to Taiwan for commercial reasons.Taiwan is still receivingdelivery of 150F-16and 60Mirage aircraft ,plus at least 130more warplanesscheduled for production on the island.Despite a great deal of discussion of "theatermissile defense"systems,missiles are by no means the only weapons that the PLAmight try to use against Taiwan.A declared blockade of shipping around the island,perhaps partially enforced by marine mines that are relatively inexpensive,couldbe difficult even for modern forces to deter.PRC pressures against arms sales tothe ROC currently mean that Beijing and Taipei bid against each other.So the pricesrise.Taipei has paid them.This does not assure a successful defense of the island,especially if the PRC underestimates the indirect costs of a prolonged campaignagainst Taiwan's economy.The fact that America will continue its protection ofTaiwan,at least for some years,can be used by Beijing militarists to their advantagein PRC budget politics.Whenever the US has its necessary naval face-offs with China,the island is shielded in the short run —but in the long run ,this syndrome bringsBeijing decisions for more PLA spending on ships,mines,anti-ship cruise missiles,and other equipment that threatens Taiwan's and America's forces.The PRC has amilitary-industrial complex ,and it acts in domestic and interstate politics asits counterparts do elsewhere.But the PLA does not yet have the wherewithal forsure success in an attempt to defeat the island's forces.You Ji rightly suggeststhat the PLA's 1995-96military exercises ,whatever they may bode for the farfuture,mean the opposite of war soon:"Until the PLA feels confident ,it willbe reluctant to be dragged into war.Militarily ,brinksmanship in essence buystime to secure PLA readiness."China's naval and air forces are slowly increasing,however.Hong Kong newspapers claim that President Jiang has pressed for a planby which the PRC would complete the building of an aircraft carrier.From Russia,China has arranged to buy ships that carry supersonic cruise missiles ,which mightconceivably damage even large American aircraft carriers.Perhaps China would pursuesuch weapons now even if the island of Taiwan had never risen above the waves.Butnew military technologies ,and the process of acquiring them,sharply reducePLA incentives to encourage a political deal with Taiwan.The target across thestrait is a plausible excuse for military investment.The same coin also has a civilianside:China's increasing weight in world politics gives many other countries lessinterest to resist Beijing on the Taiwan issue.The PRC might commit extensive resourcesto this ,including many that are economic rather than military.Of course ,armedaction by the PRC would be extremely expensive to China in economic terms.It wouldnot be unprecedented,however,because of China's decision to enter the KoreanWar (on a peninsula PRC leaders never claimed as Chinese ,against a US army thenalready fighting there,and in an era when China was relatively much weaker)。Beijing is more likely to use force if the issue is Taiwan independence ,ratherthan a deferral of Taiwan participation in China.So both the threat to Taiwan andthe options for its defense are more political than military.China's options forattack are likewise half economic and long drawn-out.As the ROC Defense MinisterChen Li-an has said ,Beijing before any invasion would probably "blockade Taiwanin order to suffocate its economy."The PLA could rather easily impose a damagingpartial blockade against Taiwan's trade —but then,it could not quickly or easilyinvade the island and win a strategic victory.PRC military options also includea mere announcement of a blockade without much enforcement.This would affect insurancerates at least.This ploy might be combined with marine mines and armed missilestrikes outside Keelung and Kaohsiung harbors ,where unarmed PRC "practice"missileshave already landed.An air battle over the strait is also conceivable,but itwould not assure victory to either side for several weeks.The outcomes of any ofthese options —or a combination of them—would probably take at least a month todetermine.During that period ,the US might resupply Taiwan's forces or participatedirectly.So the slow and therefore uncertain effectiveness of all PLA strategicoptions explains why China has not already adopted any of them.Even PLA generalsmight ,for a while,still entertain some proposals for a truce with Taiwan.Buttwo decades later ,China's array of military options will be greater as its relativetechnological level improves.Perhaps Taiwan's leaders are not actively seekingpolitical solutions to this military danger because they feel sure foreign forceswill protect them forever.5)Under What Conditions will America Help Defend Taiwan?

  Since Woodrow Wilson's time ,it has been common knowledge that the US tendsideologically to endorse the political self-determination of peoples.Actual USpolicies have very often violated this ideology ,but the norm remains a US ideal.The issues to raise about this basis of US policy are four:First,does such aview misrepresent US internal politics?For better or worse,the China and Taiwanlobbies in America are more evenly matched than ,for example,the Israeli andArab lobbies.The US has not equally supported the empowerment of all nations.Ifthe PRC does not offer Taiwan unification terms under which competitive electionswill continue to choose the island's executive leaders(as Hong Kong elections donot ),or if Taipei makes clear it would accept such terms,Americans will certainlywant to help defend Taiwan's autonomy.But as Taiwanese ,of all people,shouldhave learned from US support of Chiang Kai-shek's authoritarian regime(or perhapsfrom reading the thoughts of Samuel Huntington),Americans have not been consistentsupporters of majoritarian politics as such.Second ,the Taiwan Relations Act(TRA )is a domestic US law ,not an international treaty of alliance.It saysAmerica will "maintain the capacity of the United States to resist any resort toforce ……that would jeopardize……the people of Taiwan"and will "make availableto Taiwan such defense articles ……to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability."But in the slippery style that should be expected of US lawyers ,it does not unambiguouslycommit America to defending the island with its own forces.The US government(for military purposes the President ,who is constitutionally Commander-in-Chiefno matter what reports Congress may require )is likely to construe the TRA accordingto his or her view of overall US interests,including US prestige worldwide andUS interests in China.Nonetheless,the TRA should remain a major buttress fora potential cross-strait truce.In negotiating that ,Beijing cannot ask Taipeito rescind the TRA,since Taipei never passed it.If the ambiguous military aspectsof this foreign law give leaders on the small island more confidence that they canenter a credible truce with the big mainland,then even the imperialists may aidChinese unification.Third,each individual or collective can concurrently possessseveral different identities,any of which may become a basis for "self-determination."No group has an obvious right to determine the identity of any other,but any self-determinationimplies a responsibility to bear the consequences of whatever identity is selected.For example ,it is not evidently the right of mainland Chinese,nor certainlyof Americans,to tell Taiwanese who to be.By the same token ,Taiwanese ratherthan anyone else face the consequences that flow from the choices they make.Theyare accountable for any aftermath ,too,of the manner and time in which theypick their preferences.The American bias for the self-determination of peoples ,by democratic or any other methods,does not imply a US duty to be the main upholderof such a choice against resistance (unless some other US interest motivates adecision to help)。Max Weber has outlined the sort of morality that is relevanthere.A principle or "ultimate end," ethnicity ,does not exhaust theanalytic criteria for judging the ethics of a policy.What is right may also bedefined by net benefits ,consequences ,and "responsible"results.If most peopleon Taiwan decide they want to be Taiwanese and not Chinese(or if they postponethis choice until a time after which nobody will gain from trying to enforce it ),they alone have that right—and the parallel responsibility to take the consequences,alone if need be.Fourth,the US is interested in China's potential future democracyas well as Taiwan's current democracy.PRC and other Chinese leaders have oftenseen this interest merely as a legacy of missionary sermonizing ,19th centuryimperialism brought up-to-date in secular form.Do Americans have any concrete interestin making liberal critiques of authoritarian states with which US trade is profitable?Have the Americans any more-than-merely-meddlesome reasons to express themselveson human rights in places with different cultures such as China and Taiwan?DoAmericans benefit in protecting the island's people from a regime that still regularlyimprisons people for peaceful dissent ?The answer to these questions is positive.The US interest in foreign democracies is not just altruistic and not just electoralrhetoric by American politicians.Beyond the fact that state elites as a genre(including those in the US )all tend to be arrogant,it is possible to explaina universally presentable Realpolitik reason why any liberal regime wants othersin the world:Such states do not attack each other.Immanuel Kant was the firstto note this odd fact.(He claimed to know the reason :"It is the spirit of commercethat sooner or later takes hold of every nation and is incompatible with war.")But the democratic peace conjecture is most cogent as an empirical finding,notas a normative philosophy.The theoretical reasons why it holds true in historicalcases are quite unclear.Recent research has refined the conjecture by looking atconflicts of various sizes,showing that democracies go to war as often as otherregimes —although not against each other ,and often against weaker states.Geographicaldistances and past alliance patterns may affect the evidence.Authoritarian countriesthat are arguably in the process of democratization (the PRC is the globe's largestexample in this coding category )tend to be particularly bellicose,althoughthey become more pacific toward other liberal states when democracy seems irreversible.Also,international institutions can engage non-liberal countries in peace mechanisms(e.g.,at the UN,where the PRC has gained so much face on the Security Councilthat it has behaved more carefully than anyone had earlier predicted)。Such institutionshelp the non-violent resolution of disputes regardless of state forms.But establisheddemocracies apparently need nothing more than their mutual liberalism to get alongwell,even when they have radically different levels of objective power.This historicalbut atheoretical conjecture has become an explicit ideological basis of Americanforeign policy.President Bill Clinton said in his 1994State of the Union speechthat "democracies don't attack each other."If so (and presuming the US will remaina democracy ),then there is a ubiquitous Realpolitik rather than a culture-specificmoralizing argument that a long-term aim of American policy should be to expandthe number and power of other democracies.The US wants to maintain its internationalinterests without much need to expend lives and wealth in future wars.China,becauseof its size and increasing national power ,is the country to which these considerationsare most relevant.The "realist"argument for more democracies concerns future UScost-savings;so it applies most to America's relations with large countries ,and China is very large.Taiwan's smaller size is not a fault of the island's people,but it is a fact whose relevance to US interests in extending democratic peace toChina even Taiwanese can understand.One of the two mammoth ex-Communist countries,Russia,has shown that states once run by Leninist parties can evolve at leasthaltingly in a liberal direction.When this happened,US costs abroad declinedsharply.China has now finished its violent revolution,and its internal politicsare probably moving into a very uneasy era of conflict because of the power derogationthat is taking place.Competitive national elections and freedoms of public speechare not promised anytime soon ,and some "Asian values"of political obediencemight survive even an economic downturn.But the world's largest polity is nonethelessgradually diversifying.As the revolutionary generation dies,technocrats havereplaced them —and a greater variety of politicians is likely to follow.If thePRC becomes a democracy ,the predictable American savings (fewer dollars neededfor security,fewer soldiers killed in future wars )are large.That is the long-termpolicy significance of the historical fact of democratic peace.So America's democraticinterest in Taiwan is largely that the island can be Chinese.Taiwan's liberal evolutionsuggests that the world's most populous (and perhaps far-future most powerful)nation might develop into a country with which the US can have stable and fruitfulrelations over the long term.Democratic civilizations have never violently clashed.Taipei's policymakers should be aware ,at least ,that many Washington gurusthink this way.Clinton's National Security Advisor ,Samuel Berger,asked ina 1997speech at the Council on Foreign Relations :"Can China successfully makethe next great leap toward a modern economy in the information age without producingthe result of empowering its people ,further decentralizing decision making ,and giving its citizens more choice in their lives?"He answered his own question,"Possible ,but I doubt it."Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has opined that,"China will be a rising force in Asian and world affairs.The history of this centuryteaches us the wisdom of trying to bring such a power into the fold as a responsibleparticipant in the international system ,rather than driving it out into the wildernessof isolation."Nonliberal regimes have difficulty sustaining themselves in countrieswith incomes over $6,000per-capita,if indices of health and education are alsonot too low.This is a strong empirical correlation rather than a normative theory,and it has no exceptions among large countries.China's level of modernization isstill medium-low,even though it has risen smartly in recent decades.China willdemocratize ,if it becomes much richer and thus more powerful.Every country isof course unique in particular ways.But no sizeable country has attained a medium-highlevel of modernization(moderate GNP per capita with extensive literacy and widespreadpublic health )without becoming a democracy.The only debatable exceptions tothis empirical rule are small states(e.g.,Brunei ),especially city-statesunder potential threat or legal jurisdiction from much larger neighbors (Singaporeor Hong Kong)。There are simply no others on the planet.Anyone who doubts thisshould inspect "Table 1"of any recent year's Human Development Report from theUnited Nations Development Programme,on which (with these small possible exceptionsonly)the first 35states are all unapologetic liberal democracies.Whether thisvery strong correlation between wealth and tolerant pluralism is cosmically rightor wrong,it is a fact.Future progress toward this situation in China may wellprove to be bumpy.But leaders on Taiwan—itself a rich democracy that would beapproximately number 25on the UNDP list if it were in the UN —can depend on thepractical certainty that mainland China will take this state form too when it becomesrich enough.Even though PRC power is rising,many years will pass before it rivalsthat of the US for the purpose of defending a major island against a conventionalinvasion.China's political modernization is likely to take even more time,however,than the development of a decisive PRC military threat.The US certainly shouldnot reduce its military forces in East Asia ,if it hopes to deter war there.Butmilitary power without a clear political goal becomes ineffective.Democracy inTaiwan is worth much more to America if democrats on that island define it as dodemocrats in Hong Kong,i.e.,as Chinese.Acceptable terms for Taiwan(whichwould be different from the ones indefensible Hong Kong had to accept )may,ofcourse,never emerge from Beijing.But the separate existence of the TRA shouldraise the confidence of Taipei negotiators that a truce with Beijing would be safefor Taiwan at least in the medium term.The US really has a one-China policy,althoughmany intellectuals in both Beijing and Taipei disbelieve this.The US has nevermade a commitment to support Taiwan separatism,because such a policy would ensureeither an eventual war over the island or the eventual abandonment of the Taiwanese.A few voices in Taiwan,pointing to America's "mainland fever"(dalu re ),plausiblysuggest that the US will not protect Taiwan forever.Even if it did ,unificationistTaipei writers say,the island might have a firmer international standing thanit now does if it established a more secure link to China.In fact,American leadersadmire Taiwan's accomplishments a great deal;their enthusiasms are not all pro-Chinese.But the US will act in its long-term interests.For very many of these—rangingfrom North Korea to Iraq,global warming to financial crises —America can benefitfrom China's cooperation.Future Chinese democracy,and Taiwan's role in creatingor hindering it ,are serious eventual US concerns of particular relevance to thisessay.More immediately ,the US can also benefit from trying to deal with thePRC on a host of other global issues.Mainstream politicians on Taiwan do not stressthese aspects of their island's situation in public.They prefer to gamble that ,within the period when American military support for the island remains relativelyeasy because the PRC is still militarily weak ,the leaders of China will haveat least a temporary proto-liberal Epiphany and offer acceptable terms to Taiwan.This bet might conceivably win.More probably ,because of China's size,growth,and likely pluralization within a nationalist framework ,it might not.The politicianson Taiwan who take this kind of bet (as the erstwhile government of South Vietnamdid )are risking a great deal on behalf of their people.Americans prefer to supportallies who have viable long-term policies of their own.The most negotiable suchpolicy might be an ARATS-SEF truce.Americans can show,to leaders on each sideof the strait ,that likely alternatives to a truce are more risky than acceptanceof a truce.One risk for Taipei is eventual invasion—and another ,oddly,isthe effect on US policy of conceivable democratization in China.Taiwan autonomistsdo not have a credible medium-term security policy for their island ,and a trucewould give them one.A risk for Beijing is that recurrent threats of force spurseparatist politics ,and the military technologies that a desperate Taipei coulddevelop are fast becoming cheaper ,both economically and politically.Beijing'sleaders could realize that China's relative power after half a century will almostsurely prejudge the unification issue in their favor—with or without an armistice—so the only real question they face is whether they want a war.Taipei's leaderscould realize that an eventual confederated China ,with democracy at least onTaiwan,would be a better prospect than a conflict taking place on their islandafter a decade or two.Peace would serve many other countries too ,including Japanand the Philippines ,and most notably the US.Conclusion:War is Avoidable butLikely Both the Beijing and Taipei regimes are obstructing chances for peace inthe Taiwan strait.Beijing is doing so because its political system is not yet constructedin a manner to inspire any confidence in Taiwan about the fulfillment of PRC termsfor unity ,to the extent these have been specified.In particular ,the kindsof Chinese on the mainland who are most like the Taiwanese(Southerners ,entrepreneurs,and civilians )are underrepresented in high PRC positions of power,relativeto people who are more alien to Taiwan(Northerners ,bureaucrats,and soldiers)。Taipei politicians also obstruct peace,and fail their own citizens,by inaccuratelysuggesting that the island will be able to defend its autonomy forever.The UnitedStates unintentionally supports this war process.Most Americans are blissfullyunaware of this ,because Washington's policies concerning the cross-strait issuesince the early 1970s have fostered peace and wealth.Bureaucratic optimists inWashington are easily taken in by disingenuous statements from Taipei and Beijingsuggesting more interest in peace than the domestic politics in either of thosecapitals is likely to sustain.So the US thus far has felt no need to clarify theconditions of its defense aid to Taiwan.American statespeople should make clearthat they will help preserve Taiwan's liberalism as a precursor of specificallyChinese democracy ,as well as as an assertion of US general military prowess onbehalf of liberals.Beijing will object this is imperialism (a stance that wouldbe more convincing if Beijing did not also have an empire )。Taipei will objectit is perfidious(a stance that would be more convincing if the history of US defenselinks to the ROC had nothing to do with Chiang Kai-shek as a Chinese)。Americanleaders should clarify in public that they will not defend Taipei from being politicallyconnected to Beijing,as soon as Beijing makes clear that its promises of practicalautonomy for Taiwanese can be backed by credible long-term guarantees of enforcementcontrolled for a long time on the island,not just by words from the mainland.But until the U.S.president sees that Taiwan's liberal system is safe(either becauseChina democratizes or has a credibly enforceable deal for Taiwan's system ),he/sheshould be absolutely clear—not "strategically ambiguous"—that an authoritarianattack on Taiwan will be deterred.At present ,there is scant prospect that eitherTaipei or Beijing will do enough to prevent the likelihood of war between them.Washington will probably be drawn into such a conflict,even though its aims insuch an effort would remain ambiguous.The US could predictably win the battles ,but not the sequels.The current trend toward this conflict is beneficial in theshort term to hardline politicians in Beijing and Taipei(and perhaps to militaryspenders in Washington also )。If this trend is not counterveiled within the nextfew years ,the later result will be costly for all parties.