Zhu Zhiqun

Zhu Zhiqun

Political Scientist

Zhiqun Zhu, PhD, is Professor of Political Science and International Relations at Bucknell University, USA, where he chaired the International Relations Department (2017-2021), served as the inaugural director of the China Institute (2013-2017), and was MacArthur Chair in East Asian politics (2008-2014). He previously taught at University of Bridgeport, Hamilton College, University of South Carolina, and Shanghai International Studies University. In the early 1990s, he was Senior Assistant to Public Affairs Officer at the US Consulate General in Shanghai. Professor Zhu has received many research grants and fellowships including a Fulbright US Scholar award to Australia and a summer research grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.  Dr. Zhu is a member of the National Committee on United States-China Relations and is frequently quoted by international media on Chinese and East Asian affairs.


Soldiers take part in training at an army base in Hsinchu, Taiwan, on 6 February 2024. (Ann Wang/Reuters)

Ma Ying-jeou built a bridge, would William Lai cross it?

US academic Zhu Zhiqun opines that although Ma Ying-jeou built a bridge for future cross-strait dialogue and exchange through his recent visit to mainland China, how cross-strait relations will develop in the next few years largely hinges on Taiwan's president-elect William Lai’s decision.
Shiyu or Lion Islet, which is part of Kinmen County, one of Taiwan's offshore islands, is seen with China's Xiamen in the background, in Kinmen, Taiwan, on 18 December 2023. (Ann Wang/Reuters)

Likelihood of crises in Taiwan Strait rises as ‘grey areas’ disappear

US academic Zhu Zhiqun observes that the ambiguity and grey areas created through tacit understanding among Beijing, Taipei and Washington have long helped sustain the Taiwan Strait peace and prosperity. Once these grey areas fall apart, the fragile stability in the Taiwan Strait could be broken, leading to crises.
Taiwan's President-elect William Lai Ching-te during a campaign event in Taipei, Taiwan, on 11 January 2024. (Chan Long Hei/Bloomberg)

Beijing’s dilemma: What to do with President-elect William Lai

Now that the Democratic Progressive Party's William Lai has been elected as Taiwan's next president, cross-strait relationship has entered a period of uncertainty, says US academic Zhu Zhiqun. Beijing is stuck in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation with regard to how it could handle its future relationship with Lai. The US elections in November will also have a key bearing on US-China relations and the prospects for stability across the Taiwan Strait.
William Lai Ching-te, Taiwan's vice-president and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) presidential candidate, interacts with supporters during an election campaign event in Taipei, Taiwan, on 7 December 2023. (Ann Wang/Reuters)

Is the US worried about William Lai winning the Taiwan presidential election?

US academic Zhu Zhiqun notes that while it seems that the US is worried about the DPP's William Lai winning the elections, a DPP win might aid the US's implementation of its Indo-Pacific policies. In that light, academics and officials offering advice on how Lai should act if he wins the election can be seen as helping to ensure that the direction of the current Tsai administration would be continued, as it best fits US interests.
Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is pictured on 10 August 1976 during a rest time in France. Kissinger, a key figure of American diplomacy, died on 29 November 2023 at the age of 100. (AFP)

Farewell to Dr Henry Kissinger, an advocate for productive US-China relations

Love him or hate him, Dr Kissinger played a pivotal role in history, teeing up President Richard Nixon’s visit to China and the normalisation of US-China relations. Even when he left office, he continued to advocate for productive relations with China through engagement, and sought to explain Chinese diplomacy to Western audiences. Even as his admirers mourn the passing of a bygone era, it is now up to the young to take up the mantle of improving US-China relations.
US President Joe Biden meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, on 14 November 2022. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

What can we expect from the Xi-Biden summit?

While the US focuses on the competitive dimension of the relationship and emphasises the need to manage competition responsibly, China stresses a win-win outcome of the relationship through cooperation, says US academic Zhu Zhiqun. Will it be “never the twain shall meet” for the US and China?
Special forces personnel take part in the  Double Ten Day celebration ceremony in Taipei, Taiwan, on 10 October 2023. (Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

Gaza, Ukraine crises have implications for Taiwan

The emerging war fatigue and the twin crises in Ukraine and Gaza have analysts weighing up the implications for Taiwan. Ultimately, the US can afford Ukraine’s failure or even let the conflict in the Middle East continue, but it will do everything possible to keep Taiwan separate from China, says US academic Zhu Zhiqun.
US President Joe Biden meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 leaders' summit in Bali, Indonesia, 14 November 2022. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

US and China cannot defeat each other: They are their own biggest enemies

Healthy competition between systems to see what works best to improve the lives of the people would be a more productive framework of engagement between China and the US, which each have their flaws, says US academic Zhu Zhiqun. A little cultural humility in the process of self-exploration and self-critique will go a long way.
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden along with world leaders arrive to pay their respect at the Mahatma Gandhi memorial at Raj Ghat on the sidelines of the G20 summit in New Delhi on 10 September, 2023. (PIB/AFP)

China and India are not playing a zero-sum game in the global south

With the announcement of the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor at the recent G20 summit, it could be easy to assume that India has made its strategic decision to join the US-led West to counter China, or that the IMEC is a natural rival to China’s Belt and Road Initiative. But complementary multilateral structures may not be a thing of the past.