The stability of U.S., China, and Taiwan relations constituted one of the relatively bright spots in the world in 2002, particularly given the turbulence and anxiety with which the year began in the aftermath of the horrific events of September 11th. There were no major domestic political crises impacting relations among the three, no severe national disasters or domestic disturbances to challenge the leadership in any of the three countries, and no serious international incidents threatening to throw the cross-Strait region into conflict.
Domestically, each economy placed greater emphasis on their economic challenges and internal political developments, while internationally the U.S.-led global war on terrorism drove the agenda. Cross-Strait political bickering took a back seat to increasing economic and social interactions, and the military components in the relationship – China’s steady military modernization and accompanying training and exercise program, Taiwan’s ongoing military reform, and the U.S.’s continuing provision of arms and defense services—took a back seat to the greater imperative economic development.
Within this context, this report reviews the major developments in China, in the U.S.-China and U.S.-Taiwan military relationships, cross-Strait dynamics, and, finally, the key arms sales programs during 2002.