Taiwan's Place in the Evolving Security Environment of East Asia


March 5: Koret-Taube Conference Center, Gunn–SIEPR Building, 366 Galvez Street, Stanford, CA 94305

March 6: McCaw Hall, Frances C. Arrillaga Alumni Center, 326 Galvez St, Stanford, CA 94305

Over the last dozen years, Taiwan’s democracy has deepened in important ways. Executive power has rotated twice, from the DPP’s Chen Shui-bian to the KMT’s Ma Ying-jeou in 2008, and from Ma to the DPP’s Tsai Ing-wen in 2016. The majority in the legislature also changed for the first time in 2016, from the KMT to the DPP. Taiwan’s most recent overall Freedom House ranking is 93/100, significantly higher than the United States. Its freedom of the press ranking is the highest in all of Asia, ahead of Korea and even Japan, and its rule of law and anti-corruption scores are trending in a positive direction as well.

To be sure, serious concerns remain about the practice of democracy in Taiwan, including a poorly institutionalized and often chaotic lawmaking process, incomplete legislative oversight of executive branch actions, and a partisan and increasingly fragmented media environment. Nevertheless, the greatest threat to Taiwan’s continued place among the world’s liberal democracies now appears to be external, not internal. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has always posed an existential threat to Taiwan, but its growing economic influence, rapid military modernization, assertive territorial claims in the region, and aggressive global efforts to isolate Taiwan have accelerated in recent years. Put simply, Taiwan’s long-term future as a democracy is imperiled by China’s rise.

The PRC’s growing power presents difficult security challenges for most of the countries in the Asia-Pacific region, not just for Taiwan. But these challenges are rarely considered from a multi-lateral perspective—most analyses of regional security issues instead tend to focus on bilateral or trilateral (US-China-Country X) relationships. This pattern is particularly common in discussions of Taiwan’s security, where the dominant focus is on Cross-Strait and US-Taiwan relations to the neglect of Taiwan’s other relationships in the region.

The goals of this workshop, then, are to place Taiwan’s security challenges in a broader, regional context, to consider possible obstacles to and opportunities for greater regional cooperation on security issues, and to devise a set of recommendations for Taiwan and its partners and allies. Workshop participants will include experts on a wide array of economic, diplomatic, and security topics from Taiwan, the United States, and elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region.

Remarks are Off-the-Record.  Recording, reporting and citation of remarks is strictly prohibited.


Monday, March 5 - Koret-Taube Conference Center, John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn Building


Larry Diamond, Senior Research Fellow, Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law
Karl Eikenberry, Director, U.S.-Asia Security Initiative, Asia-Pacific Research Center

9:45am – 11:30am: PANEL I.
Assessment of US Alliances and the Political and Military Situation in the Western Pacific
Chair: Tom Fingar (APARC, Stanford)
• Overview of Military Trends and US Strategy in Region. Karl Eikenberry (APARC, Stanford)
• US-Taiwan Relations. Robert Wang (Center for Strategic and International Studies)
• US-Japan Relations. TJ Pempel (UC Berkeley)
• US-Korea Relations. Kathy Stephens (APARC, Stanford)

11:30am-1:00pm LUNCH
Keynote Speaker: Robert Sutter (George Washington University) - "Will Trump administration advance support for Taiwan despite China's objections?"

1:15pm-3:00pm: PANEL II.
Trade and Economic Relations in the Western Pacific
Chair: Phillip Lipscy (APARC, Stanford)
• Regional Trade Agreements after TPP: RCEP vs TPP-11. Barbara Weisel (former Assistant US Trade Representative for SE Asia and the Pacific)
• China’s Institution-Building: OBOR, Maritime Silk Road, AIIB. Amy Searight (Center for Strategic and International Studies)
• Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy. Russell Hsiao (Global Taiwan Institute)

3:15-5:00pm: PANEL III.
Maritime Security Issues: The South and East China Seas
Chair: Karl Eikenberry (APARC, Stanford)
• Interpreting Chinese Maritime Strategy in the South China Sea, Don Emmerson (APARC, Stanford)
• China’s Maritime Militia. Andrew Erickson (Naval War College)
• Evolution of US Policy: FONOPS and Beyond. Dale Rielage (Captain, US Navy)
• Taiwan’s Role in Maritime Security Issues. Yeong-Kang Chen, (Admiral (Ret.), ROC Navy)

Tuesday, March 6 - McCaw Hall, Stanford Alumni Center


9:30-11:15am: PANEL IV.
Taiwan’s Key Asian Relations
Chair: Kharis Templeman (APARC, Stanford)
• A Taiwanese Perspective on Asian Relations. Lai I-chung (Prospect Foundation)
• NE Asia, Yeh-chung Lu (National Chengchi University)
• SE Asia, Jiann-fa Yan (Chien Hsin University of Science and Technology)

11:30-1:15pm: PANEL V.
Cross-Strait Relations
Chair: Larry Diamond
• The Domestic Politics of Security in Taiwan. Kharis Templeman (APARC, Stanford)
• Beijing’s Taiwan Policy after the 19th Party Congress. Alice Miller (Hoover Institution)
• US Role in the Trilateral Relationship. Raymond Burghardt (former chairman, American Institute in Taiwan)

1:15am-2:15pm LUNCH