Imagine a civil war broke out in the United States.
After many years of fighting, one side retreated to New Jersey, and claimed it was the legitimate American government — not the government in Washington, D.C.
If the rest of the world acted as though New Jersey had authority to do so, residents of the other states would think the world had gone mad, right?
According to Hickey, that’s essentially what happened between China and Taiwan in 1949.
For decades, Taiwan was recognized as the sole government for all of China. They even held the United Nations seat for China until 1971.
The People’s Republic of China (mainland China) and the Republic of China (Taiwan) don’t agree on how this all transpired, and Hickey said this remains the biggest hurdle in China-United States relations to this day.
It’s fascinating and frustrating, and it’s what has driven his research for the past 30 years.
“Taiwan is no longer a dictatorship, it’s a multiparty democracy, which is great for American interests because we support democracy,” said Hickey. “It’s also a potential problem because not everyone agrees that Taiwan should remain as the Republic of China. There are some people who never want to unify with the mainland, which could reignite the Chinese civil war and involve the United States.”
He has traveled to and from Asia for more than three decades, and established trusting relationships with people on both sides.
If he could devise a perfect solution for the situation, he’d have them “agree to disagree” and postpone any decision for 50 years.
Because China is so important — home to more than 1.3 billion people and the world’s second-largest economy — Hickey strives to give U.S. officials options to prevent a conflict with China.
He has advised heads of state in Taiwan and in the United States, even testifying before a U.S. Congressional Commission created to monitor America’s relationship with China.
He frequently publishes with students and former students.
Alumni from his program have gone on to prestigious doctoral programs and careers with the State Department, the Department of Defense and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.