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United States Vital Interests: Does Taiwan Measure Up?
Charles Andrew St.Sauver
Leng, Tse Kang
Charles Andrew St.Sauver
|Issue Date:||2010-12-09 16:59:10 (UTC+8)|
|Abstract:||It has been 60 years since the Republic of China’s government fled to the island of Taiwan during the Chinese Civil War. Taiwan’s rival on mainland, the People’s Republic of China, is of the view that there is only one China and Taiwan is part of China. In recent years the mainland has reiterated and then formalized its policy to use force if necessary against Taiwan in the name of reunification. Caught between these positions is the United States. Since the Republic of China’s arrival on Taiwan, the United States has provided an external assurance of security for Taiwan. As the People’s Republic of China’s economic, military, and political power grows it will increasingly have the ability to shape issues in East Asia and beyond, therefore challenging United States’ national vital interests. Vital interest is defined as an issue at stake which is so fundamental to the political, economic, and social well being of the United States that it cannot be compromised even if defending it requires military action. Is Taiwan truly a vital interest? Donald Nuechterlein’s 16 national vital interest factors are used to evaluate this question from two angles: a literature review and questionnaire. Much like the United States’ described position of ambiguity toward Taiwan, this study is also inconclusive to the core question, Taiwan’s position as a vital interest in terms of US policy. This conclusion was unexpectedly reached because both analyses scored a virtual 1 to 1 ratio between value and potential costs/risks, thereby providing no differentiation. However, the analysis did reveal issues that should be seriously considered by policy makers when making any final determination on the Taiwan question. Criteria such as the economic and military costs of war are important as well as the fact that Taiwan is fellow democracy and important cog in the regional balance of power. Finally, recommendations provided for more in depth study on Taiwan as a vital US interest may reveal more definitive answers.|
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