October 6, 2021

Taiwan: US Recent Words Mask Underlying Policies

US most recent statements concerning Taiwan seem at variance with US longer held, underlying policies, which rate relations with China higher.   


Australia’s Government owned ABC News reported 
October 4, 2021: 

"US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement. 
"We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure and coercion against Taiwan...
The US has an abiding interest in peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and will continue to assist Taiwan in maintaining a "sufficient self-defence capability," Mr Price added. "The US commitment to Taiwan is rock solid and contributes to the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and within the region.""



It goes without saying that since 1971 the US has gone out of its way to remove any status Taiwan had to being an ally to be protected by the US. For the US China, after all, is given preference as much more import politically and more significant, economically.

So, in terms of a timeline:

1953 on - The US did not want to go to World War Three in 1953 when US and Chinese troops were actually fighting each other in Korea. The US would have even more to lose going to world war over Taiwan today, because the Chinese military is much more powerful than it was before. 

1960s China developed nuclear weapons – all making China a much more dangerous  adversary”. 

1971 the UN removed Taiwan's status as a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council giving that status to China. At the same time Taiwan was expelled from the UN altogether. 

also in 1971 Kissinger fundamentally changes US foreign policy towards China by secretly travelling to China to meet its leaders. Kissinger realised that China and the Soviets were not a monolithic bloc. The USSR could be, and was, isolated by the US and China enjoying closer relations.

1972 this was followed by Nixon openly travelling to China to cement relations. 

January 1, 1979 the US switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China. So the US Embassy was moved from Taipei to Beijing

later in 1979 Taiwan Relations Act of US Congress indicated the US would not necessarily defend Taiwan. Any defense is given strategic ambiguity. Instead "the United States will make available to Taiwan such defense articles and defense services in such quantity as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capabilities". 

January 1, 1980 - returning to Taiwan. The US terminated its Mutual Defense Treaty with Taiwan that had been in force since 1955.

1980 All important US-China trade begins to rise sharply.

US-China relations fluctuate and may not always be bad. The US and China might return to closer relations that may again isolate Russia.

2000s Since the 2000s China has become a major trading partner with the US/West - so any US-China conflict would threaten international economic stability.

2021 - Japan altered its tradional Defence White Paper wording, in 2021, now indicating "stabilizing the situation surrounding Taiwan is important for Japan’s security and the stability of the international community.” In line with that Japan should seriously increase its 1% of GDP defense budget to match its new thoughts.


So all the above indicates - however much some assume the US government might or should go to war with China over Taiwan, this is not grounded in US laws or policy.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you.
Biden said to Xi: "Taiwan Agreement". It is not clear what is the agreement.
China claimed Taiwan as a province. Taiwan rejected this claim. The U.S. acknowledged the claim but does not recognize it.
WH press release mentioned "responsible competition" after Sullivan talked to his counterpart.
AUKUS means Australia is tied strategically to the fortunes of the U.S. in Asia. Hopefully, the U.S. will not have a change of heart.

Unknown said...

Hi Pete,

What you have said is in line with my own analysis of Taiwan's situation. The US may or may not come to Taiwan's aid directly, but it's very much against Japan's interests to let Taiwan fall and I can see Japan perhaps taking direct action. Will this force the US to follow Japan? Remains to be seen.

It's such a pity the region's history stops Japan and South Korea being tight allies, because a novice looking at the geography would assume they'd be a natural fit.

The next 5-10 years will be interesting. Taiwan will have far more modern defence hardware when it receives all it's updated F-16's and 66 new F-16V's, all the promised new tanks and missiles, and all 24 missile cervette's will be completed (12 Tuo Chiang, 12 OPV versions of Tuo Chiang, which are basically Tuo Chiang's without the missiles loaded but can be if needed), and begin to receive its subs.

Similarly, Japan will possibly have increased it's defense spending by tens of billions, completed it's carrier conversion, and upgraded or replaced it's old F-15's.

China will have more amphibious assault ships, but it remains untested. Also, Xi is 68 years old now. Given he essentially made himself Emperor, it's possible he'd like to see China's strategic freedom to have free access to the sea and hammer the final nail in the coffin in the CCP/KMT saga by taking Taiwan, before he become too frail to do so, and the aging workforce affects Chinas's economy to do so.



Pete said...

Hi KQN [Your Oct 7, 2021, 7:56:00 PM]

Re "Hopefully, the U.S. will not have a change of heart." on AUKUS and Australia.

I'm becoming increasingly concerned that a "change of heart" will be caused by the unpredictable, isolationist, Trump, winning the 2024 Presidential Election.

This is with Trump still dominating the Republican Party through fear - Biden too old by 2024 - and Kamala Harris being too unusual a Presidential choice for the conservative US electorate.


Pete said...

Hi Andrew
@Oct 14, 2021, 1:35:00 PM

Thanks for some very interesting views and info.

I aim to make Taiwan a theme next week.

Cheers Pete