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Keywords: China, Taiwan, United States, Taiwan Strait, Negotiations, Conflict Resolution
Issue Date: 10-May-2010
Citation: PANG YANG HUEI (2010-05-10). THE TAIWAN STRAIT CRISES, 1954-1958: CHINA, THE UNITED STATES AND TAIWAN. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: This thesis re-examines the Taiwan Strait Crises and offers new perspectives to understanding the crises through the use of newly available primary sources, the simultaneous presentations of the perspectives of the PRC, US and ROC, the re-evaluation of some of the major arguments in existing scholarship, and the incorporation of analyses relating to “culture,” “tacit communication-tacit accommodation” and “ritualization.” Hitherto, most accounts have depicted the PRC-ROC-US relations in the 1950s as mired in hostilities and nuclear threats. However, this thesis contends that the situation was more complicated: tacit communication that was discernible during the Geneva Conference of 1954 had allowed for tacit accommodation to take root by 1958. Such developments in the PRC-ROC-US relations were contested and negotiated at every stage of the Crises. Facilitating this process was the ritualization of discourses, embodied in signaling and symbolic gestures. Such a ritualization of foreign policy often happened in a “symbiotic” manner, consisting of “soft” and “hard” elements, as an untidy confluence of nationalistic discourse, symbols, cultural images, military posturing, canvassing for international support, and diplomatic negotiations. The emphasis on “untidy” underscored that the process of tacit accommodation was not an inexorable process destined to succeed, but one influenced by a plethora of factors – international relations, domestic developments and issues of national identity of Beijing, Taipei and Washington. Such an analytical lens has enabled this thesis to appreciate the complexity of adversarial and alliance diplomacy, so aptly captured in the many nuances of the PRC-ROC-US relations, as revealed in the unfolding of the many turbid diplomatic episodes of the Taiwan Strait Crises from 1954 to 1958: the “silent poetry” of diplomacy, the tacit allowances for withdrawals, the muted back-channel negotiations, the paradoxically loud denunciations, and the sound and fury of artillery bombardments.
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