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Vol. 59, No. 3 (September 2020)
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The Deescalating Effect of Unsettled Borders on Enduring Territorial Disputes: An Analysis on the 2017 Doklam Standoff

Ping-Kuei Chen

  States often make coercive threats by showing or threatening to use military force during territorial disputes. Disputants may be mired in intense military standoff if no parties would stand down in a dispute. The tense situation may escalate into armed conflicts. This article examines military standoff short of the use of force. It presents two variables that could alleviate military standoff. First, disputants will take measures to manage their conflict behavior when repeated conflicts yield no clear resolution to a territorial dispute. Such measures aim to avoid accidents that contribute to further escalation. Second, unsettled border or territories serve as a buffer zone for the use of force. The show of force or signaling military threat becomes a frequent event accepted by both disputants. They do not deem military confrontation in the disputed territory as an immediate security challenge or threat. They will, therefore, prevent further deterioration of a military standoff and avoid the escalation of armed conflicts. Disputants lack incentives to escalate the use of force to capture a piece of territory that has been subjected to dispute for a long time. Military coercion usually aims at signaling and defending the disputant’s claim on the sovereignty of the disputed territory. Therefore, disputants are likely to constrain the level of armed conflicts. Hence, this paper examines the military standoff between Chinese and Indian armies in Doklam in the year 2017, and shows that the variables above contribute to the peaceful resolution of the standoff..

Keywords: military standoff, Sino-Indian relations, fixed borders, territorial disputes, buffer zone

China’s Position, Attitude, and Action on Conflict Prevention: A Comparative Study on the Issue of the South China Sea and the South Sudan Crisis

Wen-Chih Cha

  The main research questions of the paper are as follow: first of all, what are China’s position, attitude, and actions in conflict prevention, second question is what is the difference between China’s action and statement on the issue of the South China Sea dispute and the South Sudan Crisis when China is one of the parties who faces sovereignty and national interest, and as a third-party in the practice of conflict prevention. Third question is why China is willing to change her position from insisting bilateral dialogue to agreeing to multilateral mechanism as an approach to deal with dispute between China and ASEAN states in the conflict of South China Sea. Final question is what does this “bilateral-multilateral” mixed approach reflect on what kind of “Chinese characteristic” in the conflict prevention mechanism.

  The main research findings are as follow: first of all, in the case of South Sudan, the Chinese government uses the UN as a core and platform to intervene in the South Sudan crisis with a multi-way and a creative model. The creative model gives the Chinese government space to intervene in the internal affairs of other countries to prevent crisis. Although China emphasizes the United Nations as a core and platform, as well as not intervening in the internal affairs of other countries as a principal through multilateral mechanism to prevent conflict, the Chinese government still takes different positions and perform actions to the sovereignty disputes in South China Sea when China faces conflict with the other states in her core national interest in this area. China stresses that this is a bilateral issue and opposes UN and international organization’s intervention in the conflict of SCS. Besides, China expresses that she is willing to resolve the dispute peacefully and discusses the code of conduct on South China Sea under the framework of ASEAN. The contradiction of China’s position against internationalization in the SCS issue through multilateralism approach and discussion under ASEAN multi-operation mechanism is a result of concept difference, and is essentially a conflict prevention mechanism between west countries and ASEAN. Member states have high flexibility response to conclusion of the meeting and comply with the conclusion voluntarily, while stressing “state centrality” and “sovereignty first” under the ASEAN method. All these characteristics of the ASEAN method give China confidence to participate in the ASEAN multilateral mechanism without attention to the violation of China’s territory and sovereignty, as well as they consolidate her goal of sovereignty and territory integrity with her interference in the framework of the ASEAN.

Keywords: China, ASEAN, South China Sea, conflict prevention, South Sudan

The President's Choice of Timing for Arms Sales to Taiwan: An Analysis of the Executive Branch’s Notification to Congress for Review

Wei-hua Chen

  Since the United States switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing, the U.S arms sales to Taiwan have been a critical issue affecting the Cross-Strait relations for the past 40 years. In order to preserve stability in the Taiwan Strait, maintaining sufficient self-defense capability for Taiwan has been the major goal of the United States. However, the U.S security commitment to Taiwan has long been fluctuating between security interests and democratic reputation. It also depends on the stance of the executive branch and of the Congress. This article starts from the theoretical perspective of foreign policy analysis (FPA) and uses the presidential decision-making mechanism as an analysis unit to discuss the U.S president’s dominant role in the arms sales to Taiwan. Based on the three explanatory variables of the President’s term of office - the leader’s “threat perceptions,” the type of governments in presidential systems, and the executive-legislative relationship, the article examines U.S presidents’ choices on the timing of their consideration to make announcements of arms sales to Taiwan and “notifications to Congress for review.” This article further analyzes the considerations of President George W. Bush’s and President Obama ’s arms sales to Taiwan at different stages. Hopefully this paper will provide a better understanding of important factors that influence decision making of arms sales to Taiwan.

Keywords: Presidential decision-making mechanism, US Arms Sales to Taiwan, U.S.-Taiwan relations, U.S.-China relations, Congressional Review Process

Is Treaty-making a Way of Decolonization?: Learning from Australia’s Treaty Debates

Morgan Chih-Tung Huang

  In 2016, President Ing-wen Tsai apologized to the Taiwanese indigenous peoples on behalf of the government, which is known as the National Apology. Echoing this National Apology, the Council of Indigenous Peoples reaffirmed its proposal called the “substantive negotiation process”. Before long, this innovative treaty-making provision opened a debate on whether or not such process can really fit in with Taiwan’s current constitutional and legal system. As a way to move forward, this article attempts to scrutinize similar treaty debates in Australia. In doing so, it has become more clear that treaty-making, (indigenous) sovereignty, and the Constitution are not separate issues, but rather, a connected one. As treaty forms the basic relationships between government/state and indigenous peoples, the debate itself is about the fundamental question of power-sharing and decolonization. Given that the government often treats treaty-making as a way of legitimatizing its power, this article cautions that indigenous peoples must stay alert to the possible harms of treaty-making. There is always a danger that buying into coloniser’s concept, i.e. treaty or sovereignty, could sink the whole indigenous struggle into the frameworks of the settler’s/state’s logic.

Keywords:Treaty, Indigenous Peoples, Sovereignty, Constitutional Recognition, Decolonization