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How far will go the US in the defense of Taiwan

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Strategic Incomprehensibility

It was a straightforward question—one that American presidents have typically refused to answer straightforwardly. Would the United States “vow to protect Taiwan” in the event of a Chinese attempt to conquer the island by force? On Thursday night, Joe Biden broke with protocol. “Yes,” Biden replied. “We have a commitment to do that.”

In fact, we don’t. In 1971, amid American efforts to exacerbate tensions between the Soviet Union and China and in pursuit of a presidential visit to the Chinese capital, the Nixon administration conceded to the mostly notional idea that Taiwan and the mainland were all part of “one China.” In 1979, the U.S. broke with the Republic of China in Taipei and recognized the People’s Republic of China in Beijing. But the United States never explicitly renounced its prior commitments to the defense of that island nation. That same year, Congress passed the Taiwan Relations Act, which neither guarantees that the U.S. would support the island militarily nor precludes it. The policy the U.S. subsequently adopted toward the region has been deemed “strategic ambiguity.”

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