Student Work


Lucas Miner

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Lucas Miner’s thesis, “The One-and-a-Half Chinas’ Problem, Taiwan and the Origins of Peaceful Reunification, 1978–1988,” deals with attempts by the Chinese Communist Party and the Guomindang to achieve unification between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Taiwan during the early phase of China’s reform era. The thesis seeks to update our interpretation of Cross-Strait relations by exploring the origins of peaceful reunification, tracing its early evolution from 1978 to 1985. Primary sources from both sides of the strait—especially from the rich repository at the Academia Historica in Taipei—allows Miner to construct a nuanced and significant narrative that uniquely incorporates perspectives from both the ROC and the PRC.

The history of Cross-Strait relations and the origins of peaceful reunification during this period imparts a few broad conclusions that Miner develops in the essay. He argues that reunification was a very real possibility during the 1980s, not simply because the geopolitical conditions of this decade were conducive to reunification, but more importantly because the PRC desired it, and the ROC feared it. The extent to which Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping and the CCP prioritized the Taiwan issue is evinced in the manifold United Front initiatives, meant to accomplish reunification within the decade. The PRC viewed reunification as a consequence of history, and thus, peaceful reunification cannot be written off as mere disingenuous talk.

The dynamic political warfare recounted in the essay demonstrates that one cannot write this period off as an aberrant historical blip between 1978 and 1988 that was devoid of real exchanges or significant developments. Many of the issues and rhetoric that continue to characterize modern Cross-Strait relations emerged in this decade. The dynamics of the period serve as something of a crucible for what has since happened in Cross-Strait relations. Scholars, Miner argues, should therefore look to this era for the historical origins of the contemporary Taiwan Strait imbroglio.

Miner’s essay is very well done and can serve as an example of just how good historical writing by undergraduates at Yale can be.