Document Type


Repository Date



Two China Problem, Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, Show of force in the Taiwan Strait (1996), Unilateral Treaty, Ambiguity, Treaties

Subject Categories

Conflict of Laws | International Law | Law | Organizations Law


For every definable term in international law there are clear cases and fuzzy cases. Everyone accepts that the term "state" applies to Paraguay, Poland, Portugal and over a hundred other clear cases, but does it apply to Puerto Rico, Western Samoa, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, Gibraltar, or the Vatican City? The word "treaty" has thousands of clear applications, but does it apply to an exchange of faxes between two governments or a handshake between two diplomats at a cocktail party? In addition to ambiguities of this kind, international law is replete with deliberately created ambiguities. One of the most interesting situations in recent years that illustrates in several important ways the role of deliberate ambiguity in international law is the Two China Problem.