Deterrence Theory and Chinese Behavior

By Abram N. Shulsky | Go to book overview

Chapter Three
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.


U.S. DETERRENCE OF CHINA

Neutralization” of the Taiwan Strait (1950)

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

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1
As Patrick Morgan (1983) describes these types of deterrence.

-7-

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Deterrence Theory and Chinese Behavior
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Preface iii
  • Contents v
  • Summary vii
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Abbreviations xvii
  • Chapter One - Introduction 1
  • Chapter Two - The Role of Deterrence in U.S. China Policy 3
  • Chapter Three - The Historical Record 7
  • Chapter Four - Deterrence in the Context of Sino-U.S. Relations 17
  • Chapter Five - Deterrence and Its Discontents 23
  • Chapter Six - Deterring China in the Future 35
  • Appendix - Chinese “Deterrence” Attempts: Failures and Successes 55
  • Bibliography 81
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