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US Taiwan Strait Policy: The Origins of Strategic Ambiguity

Dean P. Chen
US Taiwan Strait Policy: The Origins of Strategic Ambiguity
ISBN: 978-1-935049-44-9
ISBN: 978-1-935049-84-5
2012/298 pages/LC: 2012008114
A FirstForumPress Book
Also of interest: Making China Policy by Jean A. Garrison
"Provides a solid empirical study of how strategic ambiguity in US Taiwan Strait policy can be traced back to the Truman Administration and its moral commitment to the Wilsonian vision of an open China. Those who want to understand the inception of strategic ambiguity should find this book very useful."—Richard Hus, The China Journal

"Dean Chen's probing exploration of the origins of the US commitment to Taiwan deepens our understanding of key determinants that have continued to influence US policy in relations with Taiwan and China."—Robert Sutter, George Washington University

"An important and timely contribution to the scholarly literature focusing on security in the Western Pacific."—Dennis V. Hickey, Missouri State University

"Well written and well researched.... An interesting and unique thesis."—Scott Kastner, University of Maryland


Why did the Truman administration reject a pragmatic approach to the Taiwan Strait conflict—recognizing Beijing and severing ties with Taipei—and instead choose the path of strategic ambiguity? Dean Chen sheds light on current US policy by exploring the thoughts and deliberations of President Truman and his top advisers, among them Dean Acheson, John Foster Dulles, Livingston Merchant, and Dean Rusk. Chen also highlights the very unambiguous, and continuing, liberal aims of US Taiwan policy.


Dean P. Chen is assistant professor of political science at the Salameno School of American and International Studies, Ramapo College of New Jersey.


  • US Interests in Taiwan.
  • US-China-Taiwan Relations from Nixon to Obama.
  • Wilson's Vision for an Open China.
  • Freeing Taiwan from Communist Domination.
  • The Inception of Strategic Ambiguity.
  • The Future of US Policy in the Taiwan Strait.