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3 Fletcher Sec. Rev. 91 (2017)
China's United Front Strategy and Its Impacts on the Security of Taiwan and the Asia-Pacific Region

handle is hein.journals/fletsrev3 and id is 91 raw text is: 

China's United Front Strategy and its Impacts

on the Security of Taiwan and the Asia-Pacific


by Michael M. Tsai / Po-Chang Huang

Evolution of Strategy from Hard Power to Soft Power

In 1949, Mao Zedong, leader of the Communist Party of
China (CCP), defeated Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang
(KMT)  troops and succeeded in establishing the com-
munist dictatorship of the People's Republic of China
out of the barrel of a gun. At the beginning of its rule,
the CCP believed that the use of violent instruments as
provided by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) was in
and of itself sufficient to both suppress reactionaries
at home and defeat invaders from abroad.

In this vein, during the Korean War of the early 1950s,
the CCP regime sent a million-strong Volunteer Army
into the Korean Peninsula and fought against the U.S.-
led United Nations forces, thus cementing the politi-
cal division of Korea and its complications that linger
to this day. Between 1958 and 1960, PLA troops heav-
ily bombarded the Chiang Kai-shek-controlled island
of Kinmen, resulting in significant casualties on both
sides. Between the 1960s and 1980s, the PLA and mi-
litia troops engaged in a series of border conflicts and
clashes with the Soviet Union, India, and Vietnam.
Throughout  this period, the CCP regime still believed
that military force alone was sufficient to serve as the
primary bargaining chip and policy instrument in its
dealing with other states.'

However, from the late 1980s to 1990s, the collapse of
Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc marked the end of Cold
War  and the confrontation between two global super-
powers. The CCP's strategy in the international arena
evolved from an overreliance on hard military force to
one that utilizes both soft power and the carrot and

From  the Chinese  perspective, the concept of soft
power encompasses the exploitation of any policy or
tool outside the traditional definition of hard military
power to achieve its desired political, economic, and
diplomatic objectives. Such exploitation takes place via
political, societal, commercial, economic, legal, psycho-

logical, cultural, and other means. Mass media and even
tourist groups could all be used as a means of penetra-
tion to funnel and support Chinese agents deep inside
enemy  territory and to create conditions that are con-
ducive to achieving China's desired outcome. This is the
essence of China's strategy of the United Front.

This article examines the United Front strategy and
the ways in which China's deployment of this strate-
gy impacts the national security of Taiwan as well as
neighboring countries such as Japan, Vietnam, the Phil-
ippines, and even the United States.2 The article con-
cludes with proposed policy recommendations for how
Taiwan can counter such strategies.

United Front Through Politics and Society

It is no secret that the People's Republic of China under
the CCP  regime has repeatedly declared Taiwan as part
of its territory and vowed to reunite Taiwan by any
means necessary. Starting in the 1990s, the CCP regime
began to systematically invite Taiwan's politicians, leg-
islators, businessmen, and other prominent public fig-
ures to visit China. During these trips, these visitors
would receive extravagant receptions, which would serve
as platforms for China to employ its United Front strat-
egy against Taiwan. Many of these visitors were then
asked to play an active role in opposing the Taiwanese
independence movement and supporting Chinese reuni-

In May 2000, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)
candidate Chen Shui-bian won the presidential election
and became  the first non-Kuomintang Party (KMT)
president of Taiwan, a milestone in the maturity of
Taiwan's democratization. At the same time, however,
China continued its United Front strategy by inviting
disgruntled politicians such as then KMT chairper-
son Lien Chan, People First Party's chairperson James
Soong, other legislators, public figures, and retired gen-
erals, to visit China. China then provided various forms

Vol.3 no.1 91

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