Home Institution

Washington University in St. Louis

Publication Date

Spring 2020

Program Name

Switzerland: International Studies and Multilateral Diplomacy


The CCP strongly opposes a formal declaration of independence from Taiwan, and has threatened military force should Taiwan take that step. This paper seeks to explain the underlying reasons for the CCP’s aggressive policy. To do so, it uses a two-part methodology composed of a comprehensive engagement with existing secondary sources from the academic literature and four new interviews with experts in the field. The paper considers three main explanations for China’s opposition to independence: nationalism, international geostrategic factors, and factors of domestic politics. It concludes that domestic politics, and specifically the CCP’s perception that independence threatens its claim to legitimacy, constitutes the main driver of China’s foreign policy toward Taiwan.


Asian History | Asian Studies | Chinese Studies | Defense and Security Studies | Diplomatic History | International Relations | Peace and Conflict Studies


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