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Should we get involved militarily ? 


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With the defeat of Japan in 1945, Taiwan and the P’enghu Islands were returned to China, but corrupt Chinese government authorities caused widespread resentment on the island. The unrest resulted in an uprising in February 1947. It was quickly suppressed with serious loss of life, and two months later Taiwan was proclaimed a province of China. Meanwhile, China was enmeshed in a civil war between Communist forces led by Mao Zedong and the Kuomintang (KMT) led by Chiang Kai-shek. With mainland China falling to the Communists, Chiang moved the KMT government from Nanjing to T’aipei on December 8, 1949. Communist plans to invade Taiwan were subsequently frustrated by the United States, which in 1950 sent naval forces to defend the island. For the remainder of the 1950s, despite sporadic hostilities between Taiwan and the mainland, the United States Seventh Fleet shielded the KMT government from a Communist invasion. In March 1954 Chiang Kai-shek was reelected president of the Republic of China (as his Taiwan government continued to call itself). Later that year the KMT and the United States signed a mutual-defense treaty, by which the United States agreed conditionally to take punitive action against the Chinese mainland if the Communist regime attacked Taiwan. In the early 1970s Taiwan’s international situation changed radically. The decision by the United States government to seek contact with mainland China led to Taiwan’s expulsion from the United Nations in 1971, and China’s seat was given to the Communist government. In 1972 United States President Richard Nixon visited Beijing and the United States opened a liaison office on mainland China. In the wake of these developments, many other nations transferred their diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to the mainland Communist government. Then, in 1979, the United States formalized relations with mainland China and ended formal diplomatic ties to Taiwan, although trade relations and informal communications between Taiwan and the United States continued. 



In January 1980 the United States-Taiwan defense treaty of 1954 lapsed. By 1981 relatively few nations maintained formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but the island’s international trade suffered little damage. In 1991 Taiwan formulated a plan to restructure the government, and a long-term, three-phase plan for reunification with mainland China was introduced. In April 1993 representatives from Taiwan and China met in Singapore to discuss the relationship between China and Taiwan and establish a schedule for subsequent meetings between the two governments. The Singapore meeting was the first high-level contact between China and Taiwan since 1949. Relations between Taiwan and China deteriorated in 1995 and early 1996 as China performed military exercises near Taiwan. Observers believed the maneuvers were intended to intimidate supporters of pro-independence candidates in Taiwan’s presidential election.



As tensions between China and Taiwan escalate, the United States is warning that it would view with "grave concern" a communist attack on the island. But does that mean it would go to war to defend the free-market democracy?



Taipei seems to think it would; Beijing seems to think it would not. But ask the White House and the reply, at least publicly, is less than definite. "We don't get into hypotheticals," says a senior administration official. "You state a policy and then apply that policy as the real world requires."



For 20 years, US policy has been to withhold an ironclad guarantee of protection for Taiwan.



Lawmakers of both parties and others say it is time to put China on notice that the US will fight if it moves on Taiwan.



The Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington-based think tank says "It is time for the US to say very affirmatively that [it] could not sit idly by and watch an armed assault on Taiwan."



Defenders of the policy warn such a declaration would make a clash between the Asia-Pacific nuclear powers inevitable. "It would bring us to the brink of war with China," says Ronald Montaperto of the Institute of National Strategic Studies, a Pentagon think tank. "We would win that war, but the costs would be high."



Chinese President Jiang Zemin on Saturday demanded that the United States end arms sales to Taiwan and block pro-Taiwan security legislation at a meeting here with US President Bill Clinton, a Chinese spokesman said.


FACT  10

Gary Bauer said on Taiwan ``I believe we must defend Taiwan if they are attacked."


FACT  11

Elizabeth Dole said when asked whether she would order U.S. troops to defend Taiwan if attacked. ``President Dole would do so, I think that the more that we can specify up front exactly what we expect ... and be very firm about what we would do, the less chance that we would ever have to go to that particular position.''


FACT  12

Steve Forbes, said he would ''absolutely'' use U.S. forces to protect Taiwan.


FACT  13

John McCain said the United States should be ready to use force to defend Taiwan's independence from China.





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