We present a regional model of plate geometry and kinematics of Southeast Asia since the Late Cretaceous, embedded in a global plate model. The model involves subduction polarity reversals and sheds new light on the origin of the subduction polarity reversal currently observed in Taiwan. We show that this subduction zone reversal is inherited from subduction of the proto–South China Sea plate and owes its current location to triple junction migration and slab rollback. This analysis sheds new light on the plate tectonic context of the Taiwan orogeny and questions the hypothesis that northern Taiwan can be considered an older, more mature equivalent of southern Taiwan.

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