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The Power of “Sacred Commitments”: Chinese Interests in Taiwan

Gregory J. Moore
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/fpa.12039 214-235 First published online: 2 February 2016


What explains China's fixation on Taiwan? With a focus on the 1995–1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis as case, this study has led to the finding that “sacred commitments” explains far more about China's fixation on Taiwan than balancing or Taiwan's strategic significance, and its interests in Taiwan cannot be understood without taking its socially constructed “sacred commitments” to Taiwan into account. The theoretical implications of this study are that contrary to the conventional understanding of Chinese foreign policy as Realist in orientation, as it regards this case Realism was not particularly helpful, for the sorts of factors Realism “majors in” were not key to understanding China's Taiwan policy. The policy implications are that though the situation across the Taiwan Strait is calm at present, American policymakers must be absolutely clear that China's interests in Taiwan are unwavering and are not based on more pragmatic realpolitik considerations, but on “sacred commitments.”

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