Cross-Strait relations

Cross-Strait relations (sometimes called Mainland–Taiwan relations[1] or Taiwan–China relations[2]) refer to the relationship between the following two political entities, which are separated by the Taiwan Strait in the west Pacific Ocean:

  • the People's Republic of China (PRC), commonly known as "China"
  • the Republic of China (ROC), commonly known as "Taiwan"

Cross-Strait relations


Cross-Strait relations
Left: the ROC flag; Right: the PRC flag
Traditional Chinese海峽兩岸關係
Simplified Chinese海峡两岸关系
Territories currently administered by the two governments that formally use the name China: the PRC (in purple) and the ROC (in orange). The size of minor islands has been exaggerated in this map for ease of identification.

The relationship has been complex and controversial due to the dispute on the political status of Taiwan after the administration of Taiwan was transferred from Japan at the end of World War II in 1945 and the subsequent split of China into the aforementioned two in 1949 as a result of civil war, and hinges on two key questions: whether the two entities are two separate countries (either as "Taiwan" and "China" or Two Chinas: "Republic of China" and "People's Republic of China") or two "regions" or parts of the same country (i.e. "One China") with rivaling governments. The English expression "cross-Strait relations" is considered to be a neutral term which avoids reference to the political status of either side.

At the end of World War II in 1945, the administration of Taiwan was transferred to the Republic of China (ROC) from the Empire of Japan, though legal questions remain regarding the language in the Treaty of San Francisco. In 1949, with the Chinese Civil War turning decisively in favour of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the Republic of China government led by the Kuomintang (KMT) retreated to Taiwan and established the provisional capital in Taipei, while the CCP proclaimed the People's Republic of China (PRC) government in Beijing. No armistice or peace treaty has ever been signed and debate continues as to whether the civil war has legally ended.[3]

Since then, the relations between the governments in Beijing and Taipei have been characterized by limited contact, tensions, and instability. In the early years, military conflicts continued, while diplomatically both governments competed to be the "legitimate government of China". Since the democratization of Taiwan, the question regarding the political and legal status of Taiwan has shifted focus to the choice between political unification with mainland China or de jure Taiwanese independence. The PRC remains hostile to any formal declaration of independence and maintains its claim over Taiwan.

At the same time, non-governmental and semi-governmental exchanges between the two sides have increased. From 2008, negotiations began to restore the Three Links (postal, transportation, trade) between the two sides, cut off since 1949. Diplomatic contact between the two sides has generally been limited to Kuomintang administrations on Taiwan. However, during Democratic Progressive Party administrations, negotiations continue to occur on practical matters through informal channels.[4]