Approaching China, Defending Taiwan

While riding with President Chiang Kai-shek of Taiwan, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower waves to the Taiwanese people during his visit to Taipei in June 1960.

The defense of Taiwan remains at the heart of the issue of China. The recent initiatives of Peking and Washington, and the impending presidential visit, have inspired hopeful speculation. Discussion has centered on formulas for recognition and entry into the United Nations. Our alliance with the Republic of China on Taiwan has been given less consideration, and its implications are optimistically avoided. But our security relationship with Taiwan-in particular the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1954-dictates certain diplomatic solutions and precludes others. Definitive choices will have to be made, and illusions of entertaining contradictory positions will have to be abandoned. If the consequences of our defense arrangement are not grasped, and the problems not deliberately resolved, the expectations that have been aroused may be unfulfilled, and the United States may proceed to underwrite a new order in East Asia that offers at best a tense military equilibrium and perpetual American involvement in the political evolution of the region.

Two inquiries are in order: one into the logic, the other into the facts. The logic is that alliance with Taipei and relations with Peking are mutually exclusive. And the facts are that our military support is unnecessary for the immediate defense of Taiwan, and the island in turn is unnecessary for the security of the United States and its regional interests. Therefore, the military value of Taiwan is not a sufficient reason for upholding the indefinite partition of China. Yet the consequences of ending the alliance would be more significant than is generally appreciated, for it would not only signal abandonment of the containment of China but threaten the concept of collective security.

Our defense relationship with Taiwan is integral to the question of recognizing the governments and states of China. Each diplomatic alternative has specific implications for the status of the treaty and the territory to be defended:

(1) One China (Taipei). This stance implies no change in our treaty arrangements. It does not discourage the nationalists' occupation of the Offshore Islands, which

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