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Going Ballistic: The Taiwan Strait Crisis at 20

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Streamed live on Dec 13, 2016

In June 1995, Taiwan's President, Lee Teng-hui, visited Cornell University to give a speech on democracy. The People's Republic of China (PRC) responded with a series of coercive military actions which precipitated a major crisis in the Taiwan Strait. Beijing viewed the prospect of an internationally recognized Taiwanese democracy as a severe thereat to its legitimacy and panned President Lee's visit as a reversal of perceived American commitments to respect its version of the "one China" policy. Over the next several months, China conducted provocative nuclear tests, amphibious military exercises, and missile firings into Taiwanese waters. Finally, in March 1996, as the crisis approached a boiling point, the U.S. Government rushed two aircraft carrier battle groups (and other military forces) to the area in the largest show of force Asia has seen since the Vietnam War. This conveyed strong U.S. support for Taiwan's democracy and defense, and helped defuse the crisis.

Given the trend lines before us, it is ever more important to evaluate the 1995-1996 Taiwan Strait crisis, and explore its implications for the future of the Asia-Pacific. This conference will bring together a distinguished group of experts for a timely discussion on China's behavior before, during, and after the Crisis, with a special focus on the Chinese military. Panelists will also examine the ways in which U.S.-Taiwan relations were strengthened after the 1995-1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis, and address some of the outstanding weaknesses which remain.

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