Case 259 - The 1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis: The United States and China at the Precipice of War?
Russell, Richard L.
Even as China takes on increasing importance to U.S. national security, Sino-American relations are bound to include a strong focus on the issue of Taiwan. Fortunately, as this case study explains, the March 1996 crisis in the Taiwan Strait illustrates how a potential flashpoint for direct conflict between Chinese and American military forces can be successfully averted. Examination of this study might yield important insights that might help avoid future conflicts in the region, as well as the world at large.
This case study proceeds in several parts. First, it gives historical background to the stubborn political dilemma posed by the U.S.-China-Taiwan relationship. Second, the study discusses developments in 1995 and 1996 that threatened to undermine the status quo. Third, a discussion of the nature of increasing Chinese military activity in the run-up to Taiwanese presidential elections in March 1996 is presented. Fourth, the study discusses the U.S. political and military response to increasing Chinese political and military pressure on Taiwan. The case study concludes with a discussion of the events that characterized the end of the crisis. Discussion questions are given at the end of each section.