Bush, China, Taiwan: A Triangular Analysis
American policy toward the China-Taiwan issue is, along with its divided allegiance to Israel and its oil-rich Islamic neighbors in the Middle East, one of the most sensitive, potentially volatile, and yet also stubbornly insoluble problems that has plagued Washington since World War II, surviving even the rise and fall of the Cold War. The China-Taiwan embroilment, a relic of the unfinished Chinese civil war that has continued to rankle with varying degrees of intensity since that time, may be divided into (at least) two phases. In the first, Washington took sides in the dispute, supporting Taiwan as a bastion of freedom opposed to communist tyranny and rising to its defense when the mainland threatened to force the issue in 1954–1955 and 1958 (though in recognition of power realities, never supporting reciprocal nationalist aspirations to “recover the mainland”). In the second phase, the United States attempted to back off and download the unification dilemma to the two principals that had most at stake in the relationship, encouraging them to work out their own solution. The first period coincides with the ascendancy of the nationalist regime in Taiwan in the global arena, when it could claim, with U.S. support, to represent “China” in the UN and other such international governmental organizations (IOOs)—although even then the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was a more important strategic actor in any substantive sense.
KeywordsTaiwan Issue Legislative Yuan National Unification Taiwan Independence Diplomatic Recognition
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