Another Taiwan Straits Crisis? CIA veteran John Culver weighs in


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In a week dominated by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, Kaiser welcomes John Culver, who served as national intelligence officer for East Asia from 2015 to 2017 and as a CIA analyst focusing on China for 35 years. John offers his perspective on Pelosi’s trip and provides important context with a discussion of the last Taiwan Straits Crisis, in 1995-96 — a crisis touched off by Lee Teng-hui’s decision to visit Cornell University, his alma mater. John also draws important parallels to the Diaoyu/Senkaku crisis of the fall of 2012, after the Japanese government nationalized the disputed islands.

2:47 – A walkthrough of the last Taiwan Strait crisis

13:45 – How China’s growing capabilities could affect its decision-making in future Taiwan crises

19:52 – Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan and the political environment surrounding her decision

25:14 – Explaining China’s interpretation of U.S. actions and the Chinese domestic political context

32:21 – Parallels to the 2012 Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands episode

35:22 – The potential fallout of this crisis

A complete transcript of this podcast is available at


John: The late Alan Romberg’s exegesis of the US-China negotiating record, “Rein In at the Brink of the Precipice” and Ryan Hass’s book Stronger: Adapting America’s China Strategy in an Age of Competitive Interdependence

Kaiser: Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada — and the town of Canmore as a great place to stay nearby.