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Strait Talk

Strait Talk

United States-Taiwan Relations and the Crisis with China

Nancy Bernkopf Tucker

ISBN 9780674060524

Publication date: 03/18/2011

Relations among the United States, Taiwan, and China challenge policymakers, international relations specialists, and a concerned public to examine their assumptions about security, sovereignty, and peace. Only a Taiwan Straits conflict could plunge Americans into war with a nuclear-armed great power. In a timely and deeply informed book, Nancy Bernkopf Tucker traces the thorny relationship between the United States and Taiwan as both watch China’s power grow.

Although Taiwan–U.S. security has been intertwined since the 1950s, neither Taipei nor Washington ever fully embraced the other. Differences in priorities and perspectives repeatedly raised questions about the wisdom of the alignment. Tucker discusses the nature of U.S. commitments to Taiwan; the intricacies of policy decisions; the intentions of critical actors; the impact of Taiwan’s democratization; the role of lobbying; and the accelerating difficulty of balancing Taiwan against China. In particular, she examines the destructive mistrust that undermines U.S. cooperation with Taiwan, stymieing efforts to resolve cross-Strait tensions.

Strait Talk offers valuable historical context for understanding U.S.–Taiwan ties and is essential reading for anyone interested in international relations and security issues today.


  • An important work that will make a strong impact and be widely read. Tucker argues that relations between the U.S. and Taiwan, and between the U.S. and China, are difficult today because successive American administrations knowingly created expectations in Taipei and Beijing that could not be met. She concludes that real progress in these relationships will require the United States to build trust. This book should provoke introspection in Washington, and will help readers everywhere understand this complex relationship.

    —Shelley Rigger, author of Politics in Taiwan: Voting for Democracy


  • Nancy Bernkopf Tucker was Professor of History at Georgetown University and at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.

Book Details

  • 404 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press