Taiwan’s Evolving Position on the South China Sea—and Why It Matters

Thursday, October 8, 2015
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
  • Lynn Kuok

Taiwan’s claims in the South China Sea are often regarded as virtually indistinguishable from China’s. On paper, Taiwan and China appear to be making substantially the same claims and the controversial U-shaped dashed line may be found on ROC and PRC maps alike. Neither government has officially clarified the dashed line’s meaning or assigned its coordinates.

Dr Kuok, however, argues that Taiwan has in the past year taken small but significant steps toward clarifying its claims. It has also adopted a more conciliatory approach best illustrated by President Ma’s official launch of a South China Sea Peace Initiative in May 2015. These moves imply possible daylight between Taiwan and China regarding the South China Sea. Dr. Kuok will examine these developments, as well as the costs, benefits, and chances of widening or narrowing that daylight in the larger context of Taipei-Beijing relations, domestic considerations including the January 2016 election in Taiwan, and the responses of other actors in the region.

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Lynn Kuok’s latest publication is Tides of Change: Taiwan’s Evolving Position in the South China Sea (2015). She was recently a senior visiting fellow at the Centre for International Law (Singapore), and has held fellowships at the Harvard Kennedy School and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Her research interests include ethnic and religious relations and nationalism in Southeast Asia and the politics and security of the Asia-Pacific region. She has served as editor-in-chief of the Cambridge Review of International Affairs and the Singapore Law Review. She holds degrees from the University of Cambridge (PhD), the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (MALD), and the National University of Singapore (LLB).