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BIPR | The Feasibility of "Peaceful Reunification" Between the People's Republic of China and Taiwan After Hong Kong.
The Feasibility of "Peaceful Reunification" Between the People's Republic of China and Taiwan After Hong Kong.

Michael Malinconi, M.A.I.A. '22

An Analysis of the "One Country, Two Systems" Principle and the Future of US-Taiwan Relations.


In the face of the many military-oriented analyses on a possible Taiwan invasion, the present study intends to investigate how and why a peaceful reunification between the People's Republic of China and Taiwan is not achievable neither in the medium nor in the long term.

As the Taiwan Strait becomes one of the most dangerous places in the world and tensions increases, understanding the root causes of this silent conflict and the factors that separate two territories only a hundred miles away becomes every day more important. The present thesis provides an important contribution in this regard. It will take into account key long-term trends affecting the security environment in the Taiwan Strait.

The first chapter comprehends an historical overview of the cross-Strait relations since the end of the Chinese Civil war. Understanding the history of the Taiwan issue is fundamental in order to analyse the present triangular relationship between the PRC, Taiwan and the United States.

The second chapter considers the elements that hinder a reunification. Striking in this sense is the impact of the de facto suppression of the "one country, two systems" principle in Hong Kong on Taiwanese public opinion and political leadership. An analysis of the structural deficiencies of "one country, two systems" will be conducted, together with an explanation of the differences between Hong Kong and Taiwan and why the principle proposed by the PRC has been applied in the latter but not in the former. We have then to consider the three ultimate barriers to a peaceful reunification: Taiwanese national identity, Taiwan's democratization and a deep distrust towards Beijing.

The final chapter reviews the structural features of the United States' Taiwan policy identifying in their shared political values the decisive factor that unites Taipei and Washington. It also includes a reflection on the past achievements and the future of dual deterrence and US' policy of strategic ambiguity.

Michael Malinconi obtained his Master of Arts in International Affairs at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in 2022. After graduation, he worked at the Elcano Royal Institute and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (China Center). His research interests include Taiwan's foreign policy and domestic politics, as well as US-China and EU-China relations.

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