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Deterring Conflict In The Taiwan Strait: The Successes and Failures of Taiwan's Defense Reform and Modernization Program

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The Taiwan Strait is one of the two places in the Asian Pacific where a major war could break out; the other place is the Korean Peninsula. For over fifty years, the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (ROC, or Taiwan) have maintained an uneasy peace across the Strait, punctuated by brief periods of limited conflict or by occasional military displays.

This paper examines that program in some detail. The first section looks at the basic objectives of Taiwan's defense reform and modernization programs and the successes and failures to date. The second section assesses the underlying reasons for those successes and failures. A final section assesses the prospects for the future and the implications for U.S. policy and U.S.--ROC relations.