The Chinese Communist Party (CPC) of the People's Republic of China (PRC) is the main actor in cross-strait affairs. The CPC gradually evolved its strategy toward Taiwan and ultimately crafted the One China Principle (一个中国的原则). The Chinese Principle is a political formula containing the process, such as people-to-people exchanges and economic integration, as well as the final outcome of reunification, namely the implementation of a modified version of the One country, two systems. This system demotes Taiwan to a special administrative region (SAR). The formula contains the means of reunification: through peace or force, with an emphasis on the former. The use of force is formalized in the 2005 Anti-secession law. Within the agreed upon framework of the 1992 Consensus, the CPC and the KMT cooperated to build robust cross-strait ties. On the economic plane, the two parties signed 23 agreements. It resulted in the economy of Taiwan becoming more dependent on a single market, the mainland’s. On the political plane, for the first time the leaders on both sides of the Strait met in 2015 in Singapore, which set the precedent for future high-level political talks. With the election of President Tsai Ing-wen of the opposition party DPP, however, the Cross-Strait relationship is entering in to a new phase best characterized as a "cold peace". President Tsai refuses to verbalize the phrase "1992 Consensus", which the CPC insists is necessary in order for the two parties to cooperate. In retaliation for shifting away from the trajectory of the KMT’s cross-strait policies, the CPC has taken measures to cut cross-strait economic ties and limit people-to-people exchanges; it also has demonstrated its willingness to restrict Taiwan's international space.
The government of the Republic of China (ROC Taiwan) pursues different cross-strait policies depending on which party is in power. Over the past eight years, the Kuomintang (KMT) under the leadership of Ma Ying-jeou cooperated with the Communist Party of China (CPC) to stabilize cross-strait relations by deepening economic cooperation and increasing people-to-people exchanges. The KMT and the CPC agree that the “1992 Consensus” is the basis of cross-strait cooperation as well as political engagement, including high level political talks. The 92 Consensus allows for each side to have different interpretations of One China. Even though the opposing party of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) wants to maintain stability in cross-strait relations, it aims to acquire political parity with the CPC as well as build the Taiwanese identity. Recently, the newly elected DPP President Tsai Ing-wen accepted the realities of the 1992 Consensus, but in her acceptance speech and her inaugural address she failed to say the phrase. Her refusal to say 92 Consensus along side a few other event triggered tensions in cross-strait affairs. The CPC remains adamant that President Tsai say "1992 Consensus". The DPP not only wants to maintain current cross-strait economic agreements but also build economic ties with Southeast Asia as well as with Japan in order to limit Taiwan's growing economic dependence on a single market, in particular the mainland's. The DPP also wants to maintain political separation (perhaps it wants to follow a policy of either dynamic status quo or a modified version) until perhaps the political and social conditions on the mainland evolve, in particular the development of human rights and democracy; or, if the mainland system remains unchanged, establish a new framework to conduct cross-strait relations that includes the acknowledgement that both sides of the strait are ruled by separate government entities.
The government of the United States of America (U.S.) is the major external actor in cross-strait affairs. The U.S. government consistently maintains a One China Policy that contains two frameworks. The communiqué framework guides U.S.-China relations, while the communiqué framework and a second framework are the basis of U.S.-Taiwan ties. Even though the U.S. government recognizes One China, it maintains the position that the sovereignty of Taiwan remains to be determined. From the viewpoint of the CPC, this contradictory position undermines the basis of U.S.-China ties for several reasons. First, it weakens the foundation of U.S.-China relations -- the communiqué framework. Second, it bestows political and military recognition on the Taiwanese authorities. Third, it poses a direct challenge to the Chinese official claims of sovereignty and territory. Last, it encourages Taiwanese forces toward independence. The American government wants China and Taiwan to resolve their differences peacefully. But, because the Chinese side maintains the right to use force to resolve issues with Taiwan, the American government in the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) provides a security guarantee to Taiwan as well as a commitment to sell defensive weapons to Taiwan in order to maintain a self-defense capability. The security guarantee encompasses any coercive measures that jeopardize the security of Taiwan as well as its economic and social systems. Within the U.S. government, the U.S. Congress is the biggest supporter of Taiwan, passing resolutions and laws in support of U.S.-Taiwan in the political, economic and military planes. Due to the changing regional dynamics including in the South China Sea and the East China Sea, the Congress is moving toward building stronger ties with Taiwan.
Japan is included as a major actor in our profile of Cross-Strait relations. The signing of the 1960 Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security by the governments of Japan and the United States as well as the 1996 Japan-U.S. Joint Declaration on Security tie Japan to the U.S. regional defense perimeter. In the event of a contingency in the Taiwan Strait, Japan would be obligated to provide support to the U.S. From the viewpoint of the Chinese leadership, both the 1960 Treaty and the 1996 Joint Declaration represent an endeavor between the governments of Japan and America to prepare for a future confrontation with China. The 2005 Japan-U.S. Two-Plus-Two Statement demonstrates the growing interest of the Japanese government in maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, while its 2015 and 2016 Defense White Papers express growing concern over China's increasing assertiveness in the maritime arena. Despite these commitments and concerns, whether or not the Japanese government, in fact, would provide support to the U.S. in the event of a conflict between China and the United States over Taiwan in the Taiwan Strait is unclear.