The future of China-Taiwan relations

A Kuomintang supporter waves Taiwanese flags at an election rally
Taiwanese identity is growing stronger. Most residents say they want a status quo that gives the island autonomy, but does not call for independence from China (source: dpa)
  • Taiwan is very economically dependent on China
  • A growing number of Taiwanese see their country as separate from China
  • These two trends will determine the cross-strait relationship going forward
  • For now, any sudden moves by either side is unlikely

There are two competing narratives about where Taiwan is headed in its relationship with China. One rests on economic and cultural determinism and points toward eventual unification. The other is derived from a stubborn resistance to those same factors and suggests indefinite political separation. How these competing forces play out in Taiwan’s politics and how the Chinese respond will dictate the shape the relationship takes.

Economically, Taiwan is heavily dependent on China, where 40 percent of its exports go. Though there has been a decline since a peak in 2010, Taiwan still pumps more than 40 percent of its international investment into the Middle Kingdom.

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