Independence of Taiwan

Istvan Simon writes: Cameron Sawyer is right about Taiwan's historical background, but I think that he is wrong about what would happen if China attacked Taiwan. Contrary to Cameron, I believe that the United States would come to the aid of Taiwan under those circumstances.  The United States signed a treaty with Taiwan, and in the whole history of the United States it has always honored it's treaties. The United States went to War in Korea and Vietnam without such a treaty. Thus  it seems  inconceivable to me that it would not come to the aid of Taiwan if it were attacked by the PRC. It has been pointed out that technically  the treaty does not oblige the United States to defend Taiwan militarily. But it has been the long-standing policy of the United States to insist on a peaceful solution. Therefore the credibility of the United States would be gravely harmed if in the event of an attack it just abandoned Taiwan.

There is also the fact  that Taiwan has a democratically elected government, and that through elections the  23 million people of Taiwan have chosen a path that clearly indicates their desire to remain independent.  U.S. public opinion and sympathies would be most likely solidly behind Taiwan  in the event of a military attack by the PRC. This political reality would also be a factor in ensuring that Taiwan would not be abandoned by the United States under those circumstances.  The best solution to the Taiwan question would be for neither side to press its point of view too strongly. As Cameron says, there is no need for Taiwan to declare independence. It is "de facto" independent. On the other hand, the PRC should show that it is serious about its "one country, two systems" policy and offer Taiwan complete autonomy, including the right to maintain its own military, laws, administration of Justice,  and not interfere with its democratic elections. Hong Kong, for example, has returned to the administration of the PRC. Yet Hong Kong competed separately in the recent Olympics. Why could not Taiwan have a separate and independent voice in the United Nations?

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Ronald Hilton 2004


last updated: October 23, 2004