Crisis and Commitment: United States Policy toward Taiwan, 1950-1955

Crisis and Commitment: United States Policy toward Taiwan, 1950-1955

Crisis and Commitment: United States Policy toward Taiwan, 1950-1955

Crisis and Commitment: United States Policy toward Taiwan, 1950-1955

Synopsis

Robert Accinelli examines in comprehensive detail the making of the American military and political commitment to Taiwan during the first half of the 1950s. Starting with President Truman's declaration in January 1950 that the United States would not militarily assist Taiwan's Nationalist Chinese government, he shows why the United States subsequently reversed this position and ultimately chose to embrace Taiwan as a highly valued ally. In addition to describing the growth of a close but uneasy association between the United States and the Nationalist regime, he focuses on the importance of the Taiwan issue in America's relations with the People's Republic of China and Great Britain.

Excerpt

Among the proliferation of foreign commitments by the United States during the early cold war, one of the most fateful was to the exiled Chinese Nationalist government on Taiwan (Formosa). The defeated Republic of China (ROC), seemingly orphaned by the United States in early 1950 after fleeing from the mainland of China to its island haven, gained a new lease on life as a result of the intervention of the U.S. Seventh Fleet in the Taiwan Strait in June 1950. Subsequently the ROC became first a de facto, then in 1955 a formal, American ally. By extending military protection to Taiwan and once again becoming the patron of the Kuomintang (KMT) regime of Chiang Kai-shek, the United States contributed measurably to the animosity between it and the People's Republic of China (PRC) that congealed during this half decade. In 1954-55, Sino-American differences over Taiwan, which had come to encompass the Nationalist-occupied offshore islands, resulted in one of the most threatening confrontations of the entire cold war.

No issue, not Korea, not Vietnam, divided the United States and China more fundamentally during this period, none was a greater source of contention between them during the remaining years of intense Sino-American rivalry, and none posed a bigger roadblock to their eventual reconciliation and to the normalization of relations in 1979. The United States, despite the severance of formal political and military ties with Taiwan that accompanied the establishment of diplomatic relations with China, has maintained important economic, military, and unofficial connections with its onetime ally. And Taiwan itself has undergone a heralded transition from underdeveloped country to economic dynamo and from an authoritarian state to an emerging democracy. Although the Taiwan issue has been less conspicuous and grating in Sino-American relations since the early 1980s, it still possesses a destabilizing potential. In June 1995 this potential was vividly demonstrated by Peking's white-hot anger over Washington's decision to permit Taiwan's president Lee Teng-hui to make a brief private trip to his alma mater, Cornell University, the first visit by a Taiwanese leader to the United States since the termination of diplomatic relations.

Despite the undeniably far-reaching significance of the political and military commitment to Taiwan molded in Washington between 1950 and 1955 . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.