Cold War Competition over the Taiwan Strait

In a new post at the publisher’s website, co-editor Geoffrey Gunn reviews a new book Strait Rituals: China, Taiwan, and the United States in the Taiwan Strait Crisis, 1954–1958, authored by Pang Yang Huei and published by Hong Kong University Press.

The book examines successive crises from 1954 to 1958 over the relationship between China and Taiwan and Taiwan and the USA.

Using new archival documentation, mainly from China, the book’s “main contention … is that the crises cannot be merely explained in terms of nuclear deterrence and Cold War stand-off but that ‘tacit communication’ in the first crisis fed into ‘tacit accommodation’ in 1958. In this light, ‘rituals’ or an ‘untidy’ mix of ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ power all played their part in ultimately averting the threat of war.”

In concluding, Gunn states that the book is a “dispassionate, balanced, rigorous in the presentation of facts…” and considers “Pang Yang Huei’s work will be indispensable for anyone seeking to understand the issues surrounding this Cold War hangover that continues to trouble contemporary politics across the Taiwan Strait.”

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