Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name



Political Science

Committee Chair

Hua, Shiping, 1956-

Author's Keywords



United States--Foreign relations--China; China--Foreign relations--United States; United States--Foreign relations--Taiwan; Taiwan--Foreign relations--United States; China--Foreign relations--Taiwan; Taiwan--Foreign relations--China


During the 2004 Presidential Election in the Republic of China, President Chen Shui-bian proposed two referenda. These referenda dealt with relations with the People's Republic of China. The People's Republic of China reacted very strongly against the referenda, even before the full nature of the referenda was known, and tensions ran high between the two states through the run-up to the election. United States President George W. Bush also made statements against the referenda, but did not take much action to exert pressure on the ROC. Instead the US worked instead to maintain strong relations with both while maintaining the rhetoric of working to relieve tension. In effect, the US talked deterrence while instead maintaining the strategic triangle at work. This work breaks down US reaction to the crisis through the two systems of deterrence and strategic triangle theory, in order to better understand the priorities and actions of the Bush administration. In doing so, it becomes evident that the ROC, while not achieving everything its leadership hoped, came out best from the crisis, while the PRC lost credibility. Moreover, while the credibility of the US commitment to peace might have been strained, the US did not benefit or lose too much from the crisis. While it may still be too early to be certain, it seems that the Bush administration's decision to protect American relationships with both the PRC and ROC was the best approach open.