The Taiwan Strait is one of the two places in the Asian Pacific where a major war could break out; the other place is the Korean Peninsula. For over fifty years, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (ROC, or Taiwan) have maintained an uneasy peace across the Strait, punctuated by brief periods of limited conflict or by occasional military displays.

The first section of this paper looks at the basic objectives of Taiwan’s defense reform and modernization programs and the successes and failures to date. The second section assesses the underlying reasons for those successes and failures. A final section assesses the prospects for the future and the implications for U.S. policy and U.S.–ROC relations.

About the Author
Michael D. Swaine is a senior associate in the China Program at the Carnegie Endowment. He specializes in Chinese security and foreign policy, U.S.-China and U.S.-Taiwan defense and security relations, and Asian strategic issues. He is also the author of Reverse Course? The Fragile Turnaround in U.S.-China Relations.(Carnegie Endowment Policy Brief No. 22)