During Ma Ying-jeou’s presidency, the Republic of China on Taiwan has experienced an unprecedented expansion of its commercial and other ties with the Chinese mainland. After a hard-fought election campaign to win a second term in office, President Ma has vowed to continue improving relations with the People’s Republic of China in the interests of greater cross-Straits trade, stability, and normalization.
Yet at home and internationally, President Ma’s administration has faced sharp and mounting criticism that his policies and overtures to the PRC have damaged Taiwan’s sovereignty and security—as well as jeopardized the present U.S.-backed security arrangements across East Asia. This criticism is coming at a time of increasing uncertainty about the stability and predictability of the one-party regime on the Chinese mainland, and also at a time of growing tension across the region caused by Beijing’s maritime claims against the Phillipines and Japan.
What role will Taiwan play in these disputes, and what can we expect from President Ma’s second term? Will Taiwan become increasingly a liability for U.S. security strategy in the region, or will it become a strategic asset in U.S. efforts to promote peace and prosperity in East Asia?