THE HISTORICAL RECORD
The People's Republic of China (PRC) has taken action contrary to important interests of the United States and the former Soviet Union on many occasions. In many case, one or the other tried to deter China but found this task rather difficult to accomplish, despite the vast disparity in military power between itself and the PRC. In other cases, there was no attempt at immediate deterrence, but there was an element of general deterrence.1 This chapter briefly discusses the instances in which immediate deterrence was attempted or in which some element of general deterrence (i.e., some effect arising from the military posture of China's adversary) might be thought to have been operative.
One of President Harry S. Truman's first acts in response to the North Korean invasion of the south was to interpose the Seventh Fleet between the Communist PRC on the mainland and the Nationalist (Kuomintang [KMT]) regime on Taiwan. Although this was presented as a “neutralization” of the Taiwan Strait, i.e., as designed to prevent either party from attacking the other, it in effect served to prevent the Communists from completing their victory in the civil war. Since a successful attack on Taiwan was so far beyond____________________