Collision Course

Taiwan, China, and the United States

While the United States is preoccupied with Iraq, Iran, and North Korea, a far more dangerous crisis is brewing: the prospect of an armed confrontation between Taiwan and mainland China.  Unfortunately, Washington’s current policy places us in the middle of that quarrel.  If U.S. leaders do not change course, America could find herself in a perilous showdown with a nuclear-armed China within a decade.

Beijing insists that Taiwan is merely a renegade province of the People’s Republic of China, and, although Chinese officials state that the PRC wants to regain sovereignty over the island by peaceful means, they have consistently refused to renounce the use of force to achieve reunification.  Renouncing force is an option that they will not entertain even in off-the-record discussions, even when the concession is presented as part of a quid pro quo for the termination of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan—something Beijing wants very much.

It is often difficult for Americans and other Westerners to comprehend the depth of Chinese determination to get Taiwan to “return to the motherland.”  To many (probably most) Chinese, Taiwan is the most potent remaining symbol of China’s long period of weakness and dependence, which began in the early 19th century, and her resulting shabby treatment at the hands of various colonial powers.  For these inheritors of an ancient and...

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