Taiwan has evolved into a modern democracy, but that doesn’t mean that a US “guarantee” of its safety from Chinese invasion is a good idea. From Doug Bandow a antiwar.com:
The sun never sets on the American Empire, which is no less extensive than the British Empire. What makes Washington’s imperial domain unique is that it regularly expands without conquest.
Now members of the ever-hawkish Republican Party want make Taiwan an official defense client, with Washington promising to defend the island from the People’s Republic of China. And the threat is real. Earlier this month Taiwan’s Foreign minister Joseph Wu warned that “for China, Taiwan would be an extremely convenient sacrificial lamb.” He worried that “The threat is on the rise.”
If the U.S. guarantees Taipei’s security the danger of war will be great. Barry Posen of MIT observed that “The US commitment to Taiwan is simultaneously the most perilous and least strategically necessary commitment that the United States has today.” How many American lives might be sacrificed in another people’s fight that could go nuclear?
China is an ancient civilization. Once the world’s greatest economic power which dominated Asia, the empire turned inward. The vast land stagnated as Europe flourished. By the mid-1800s European countries were forcibly “opening” China for trade and seizing territory, ranging from Hong Kong to Western “concessions,” including in Shanghai, where many original buildings from that time remain on the Bund, or waterfront.
The “century of humiliation” extended into the 20th century. The decrepit Qing dynasty was overthrown in 1911. The Republic of China was established on January 1, 1912, but much of the country fell under the control of warlords. Over time the Kuomintang, led by Chiang Kai-shek, revived the ROC’s authority, but still fell short of real control. The Chinese Communist Party emerged, in which Mao Zedong soon gained preeminence. In 1937 Japan began an extended war of conquest against China. Tokyo promiscuously murdered and destroyed but could not control the territory it seized. With Japan’s defeat in 1945 came full-scale civil war in China. Chiang lost, allowing Mao to dramatically declare creation of the new revolutionary government in Tiananmen Square on October 1, 1949. Two months later Chiang moved what remained of his government to Taiwan.