Thursday, January 28, 2010

Busy busy busy

Things are a little busy on my end as next week I'm presenting a paper at Columbia University's graduate student conference on East Asia. Putting the final touches on my presentation and practicing quite a bit so everything goes smoothly.

My research question was whether American arms sales to Taiwan restrain them from developing nuclear weapons. It was a lot of fun researching the issue as I had little knowledge about Taiwan's nuclear weapons program (or civilian for that matter). Turns out the PRC developing nukes was a major motivation for the Nationalists to pursue a nuclear deterrent (along with warming Sino-US relations in the 1970s).

It highlights a major problem in the Sino-US relationship: the arms sales themselves. Beijing considers the island a renegade province and deeply resents American involvement in the matter. However, the United States for decades has acknowledged China's position on Taiwan (not the same as agreeing with it though), yet continues to sell weapons to the ROC all the while saying that the matter of reconciliation/unification is between Beijing and Taipei. Yet as history has shown, if the United States gets too friendly with Beijing, Taiwan gets nervous and resumes its nuclear weapon program. Although at this point in time I wonder how warm relations between China and the US could get considering their current disputes over trade, climate change, and China's growing influence in general.

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