Thinking Citizen Blog — The Last Three Taiwan Crises: 1954, 1958, 1995

Thinking Citizen Blog — Monday is Foreign Policy Day

Today’s Topic: The Last Three Taiwan Crises: 1954, 1958, 1995

What are the chances of war in Taiwan? 1%? 2%? 10%? 20%? Honestly, I have no clue. But I would love to hear the opinion of others with more specialized knowledge of the situation. In the meantime I thought it might be helpful to review the last three “Taiwan crises.” They blew over. But the global situation has changed with the relative strength of the Chinese military and the war in the Ukraine. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.

THE 1954 CRISIS — IN THE WAKE OF THE KOREAN WAR

1. “Beijing tried to deter the Eisenhower administration from signing a mutual defense treaty with Nationalist Party leader Chiang Kai-shek, who had fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing a civil war to Mao Zedong’s communists.”

2. “The U.S. and Taiwan signed the defense treaty in 1954. The U.S., meanwhile, tried both to keep communist forces from seizing Taiwanese-held islands of Kinmen and Matsu just off China’s southeast coast, which China bombarded with artillery.”

3. “But what they also wanted to do,” Chong says, “was to restrain Chiang Kai-shek from trying to retake the mainland” with a counterattack”

NB: In the PRC poster above, Chiang Kai-shek is depicted as a scarecrow put up by the Americans.

THE 1958 CRISIS — EISENHOWER REJECTS PROPOSED USE OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS

1. “The U.S. military planned the use of nuclear weapons against China to prevent the mainland’s takeover of the Taiwan-held islands of Kinmen and Matsu, but President Dwight Eisenhower rejected the idea.”

2. “Eventually, the two settled into an uneasy standoff, in which communists and nationalists shelled each other on alternate days. This face-saving ritual continued intermittently for some two decades.”

3. “Then Secretary of State John Foster Dulles characterized he alternate-day bombardment as a propaganda ploy that was “psychological and designed to create the impression they [China] are the masters.”

1995 — TAIWAN PRESIDENT VISITS HIS ALMA MATER, CORNELL: Clinton versus Congress

1. “The third crisis erupted in 1995 over Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui’s visit to his alma mater, Cornell University.”

2. “The Clinton administration initially opposed the idea but was forced to relent following a Congressional resolution in support of the visit.”

3. “China responded with months of military exercises, including lobbing missiles into waters off Taiwan, and rehearsing amphibious assaults on the island. Beijing saw Lee’s U.S. visit as yet another betrayal of Washington’s commitment to the “one-China policy.”

NB: “Beijing’s military muscle-flexing was also aimed at deterring Taiwanese voters from voting for Lee in the 1996 presidential elections. The ploy backfired. The U.S. sent two aircraft carrier battle groups to waters near Taiwan. And Taiwanese voters chose Lee with a 54% majority, in the island’s first-ever direct presidential elections.”

https://www.gpb.org/news/2022/08/03/what-3-past-taiwan-strait-crises-can-teach-us-about-us-china-tensions-today

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Taiwan_Strait_Crisis

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Taiwan_Strait_Crisis

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_Taiwan_Strait_Crisis

ATTACHMENTS BELOW:

#1 A graphic guide to justice (9 metaphors on one page).

#2 “39 Songs, Prayers, and Poems: the Keys to the Hearts of Seven Billion People” — Adams House Senior Common Room Presentation, 11/17/20PDF with headlines — Google Drive

YOUR TURN

Please share the coolest or most important thing you learned in the last week, month, or year related to foreign policy. Or, even better, the coolest or most important thing you learned in our life related to foreign policy.

This is your chance to make someone else’s day. And to consolidate in your memory something important you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than otherwise about something dear to your heart. Continuity is the key to depth of thought. The prospect of imminent publication, like hanging and final exams, concentrates the mind. A useful life long habit.

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Passionate about education, thinking citizenship, art, and passing bits on of wisdom of a long lifetime.

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John Muresianu

Passionate about education, thinking citizenship, art, and passing bits on of wisdom of a long lifetime.