Strait Rituals

China, Taiwan, and the United States in the Taiwan Strait Crises, 1954–1958

Pang Yang Huei

Strait Rituals

Pang Yang Huei

Distributed for Hong Kong University Press

384 pages | 4 b&w illus. | 6 x 9
Hardcover $55.00 ISBN: 9789888208302 Published May 2019 AAUKEU - ALL AMERICAS & UNITED KINGDOM & EUROPE
The two Taiwan Strait crises took place during a particularly tense period of the Cold War. Although each incident was relatively brief, their consequences loom large. Based on analyses of newly available documents from Beijing, Taipei, and Washington, Pang Yang Huei challenges conventional wisdom that claims Sino-US misperceptions of each other’s strategic concerns were critical in the 1950s. He underscores the fact that Washington, Taipei, and Beijing were actually aware of one another’s strategic intentions during the crises. He also demonstrates conclusively that both “crises” can be understood as a transformation from tacit communication to tacit accommodation. An important contribution of this study is a better understanding of the role of ritual, symbols, and gestures in international relations. While it is true that these two crises resulted in a stalemate, the fact that all parties were able to cultivate talks and negotiations brought relations, especially between the US and China, to a new and more stable level. Simply averting the threat of war was a major achievement. Strait Rituals is an important micro-history of a significant moment during the Cold War and a rich interpretation of the theoretical use of multiple points of view in writing history. It sets a new standard for understanding China’s place in the world.
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