China, Taiwan, and the Offshore Islands: Together with An Implication for Outer Mongolia and Sino-Soviet Relations

By Thomas E. Stolper | Go to book overview

IX
CHINESE IRREDENTISM
VIS-àVIS THE UNITED
STATES AND THE SOVIET
UNION

A. Taiwan

In the negotiations leading to normalization of US-PRC relations, Washington acceded to Peking's long-standing demand that the United States end its military and diplomatic presence in the area of Taiwan. The U.S. transferred its diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Peking, ended formal diplomatic relations with Taipei, terminated the MDT upon one year's notice, and withdrew all American forces and military personnel from Taiwan and its environs. 1

That old boulder in the path of U.S.-China relations, the renunciation of force, has been chiseled down to a pebble. The last highexplosive shell was fired at the offshore islands in 1964; 2 and the symbolic shelling with leaflet cannisters ended on January 1, 1979, the day on which formal diplomatic relations between Washington and Peking began. 3 Peking no longer speaks of "liberating" Taiwan. The watchword now is "reunification," a much calmer and more peaceful word, with no overtones of military action or revolutionary upheaval. Washington did not know Peking would change nomenclature or stop shelling, 4 and those actions may be intepreted as important tokens of good faith in the crucial matter of solving the question of Taiwan peacefully. Though Peking still categorically refuses to promise that it will never use force to recover Taiwan, because such a pledge would infringe upon Chinese sovereignty, an additional reason is now given: a formal pledge would lead the Nationalists to refuse all negotiations for peaceful reunification. 5 However, China's leaders say that the PRC will use force against Taiwan only in extreme circumstances; e.g., if

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