A Brief History
On December 2, 1954, the United States and the Republic of China, known to us today more familiarly as “Taiwan,” signed a mutual defense treaty that was really just the US promising to ensure the integrity of the island of Taiwan which claimed to be the “legitimate” government of China against any invasion or aggression from mainland/Communist China or perhaps the USSR.
A Cold War arrangement, this treaty became obsolete because of a change in the relationship between the US and Communist China during the 1970s and by 1980 the treaty was nullified. The treaty had contained wording allowing either signatory party to withdraw from the agreement, which of course the US did.
A new treaty was drafted to reflect the changed international scene in 1979, the Taiwan Relations Act, a replacement document that retained some of the language of the previous treaty but that reflected the US recognizing the Communist government of mainland China as the sole legitimate government of China.
Tensions have remained high regarding what may an inevitable attempt by China to invade and subjugate Taiwan, an island the Chinese see as their sovereign territory, and although the new treaty does not require US defense of Taiwan, such a defense is assumed.
Question for students (and subscribers): Should the US be committed to the defense of Taiwan? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
Your readership is much appreciated!
For more information, please see…
Easton, Ian. The Chinese Invasion Threat: Taiwan’s Defense and American Strategy in Asia. Eastbridge, 2017.
Gershaneck, Kerry. Media Warfare: Taiwan’s Battle for the Cognitive Domain. Kindle, 2021.
The featured image in this article, a photograph of U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower greeting crowds in Taipei while on parade with Republic of China leader Chiang Kai-shek in June 1960, is now in the public domain in the Republic of China (Taiwan) because its term of copyright has expired there.
You can also watch video versions of this article on YouTube.