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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The levels of analysis question in the cross-Strait bargain : domestic constraints and international bargaining power Chen, Ted Hsuan Yun


Our understanding of the bargain between China and Taiwan depends on our ability to effectively untangle the myriad of processes that exists at multiple levels across the Taiwan Strait. By examining in this context Robert Putnam's two-level game, widely endorsed as the answer to this methodological puzzle but never rigorously examined, I seek to determine the relevant levels of analysis needed to explain, predict, and shape cross-Strait bargaining outcomes. I examine two working hypotheses and a set of supporting questions, derived from Putnam's article and related works, against empirical evidence from the most recent iteration of the cross-Strait bargain, from Ma Ying-jeou's election in 2008 to the 2012 Presidential Elections in Taiwan. On the methodological front, the empirical evidence speaks to the power of systemic-level variables, but ultimately demonstrates the necessity of incorporating domestic-level variables according to the two-level game's interactive logic in any analysis shorter than the longest of the long runs. Regarding substantive aspects of the cross-Strait bargain, my findings suggest that Beijing is most likely to succeed in manipulating the Taiwanese domestic constituency by focusing on mobilizing segments of Taiwanese society with interests similar to its, specifically through agent-specific punishment promoting the KMT at the expense of the DPP. We are presented with the situation in which the KMT is the better agent when it comes to gaining concessions from Beijing, but cannot do so unless the DPP has a credible chance to spend regular time in office.

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