Purposeful Ambiguity as International Legal Strategy: The Two China Problem

THEORY OF INTERNATIONAL LAW AT THE THRESHOLD OF THE 21ST CENTURY: ESSAYS IN HONOUR OF KRZYSZTOF SKUBISZEWSKI, pp. 109-121, Jerzy Makarczyk, ed., Kluwer, 1996

Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 10-63

12 Pages Posted: 22 Oct 2010  

Date Written: October 19, 2010

Abstract

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.

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

JEL Classification: K33, K10, K30

Suggested Citation

D'Amato, Anthony, Purposeful Ambiguity as International Legal Strategy: The Two China Problem (October 19, 2010). THEORY OF INTERNATIONAL LAW AT THE THRESHOLD OF THE 21ST CENTURY: ESSAYS IN HONOUR OF KRZYSZTOF SKUBISZEWSKI, pp. 109-121, Jerzy Makarczyk, ed., Kluwer, 1996; Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 10-63. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1694863

Anthony D'Amato (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

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