The 2002 Supplemental Appropriations Act places Taiwan at an equal level af alliance as NATO Allies. An attack on Taiwan would be punished severely, most likely with very high support internationally.
US rallying allies for joint Taiwan defense
Published: August 21, 2001
Source: The China Post
he Taiwan Strait appears to be a place where war could break out at any time, at least in the minds of American strategic planners.
The U.S. is legally bound to help defend the island according to the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act and morally obligated to protect the democracy against communist intimidation. This was the rationale of President George W. Bush's famous pledge of doing "whatever it takes" to defend Taiwan.
Washington has been busy convincing its allies in the region to help it fulfill that pledge. Consultations have been conducted by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific Jim Kelly with their counterparts in Seoul, Tokyo and Canberra.
That Taiwan defense was a dominant subject in their discussions is evidenced by Deputy Secretary of State Armitage's remarks made in Sydney last week.
Answering media questions, Armitage said the U.S. expects Australian troops to die alongside American servicemen in any future conflict with mainland China over Taiwan and that Australia is obliged to commit troops to any military conflict in the Taiwan Strait.
"I am not sure all of our friends here in Australia understand the significance of the alliance with America ... It is not a matter of political convenience or of economic interaction ... for us an alliance is an obligation, if necessary, to fight and die for each other.
"We are talking on the U.S. side (of) our sons and daughters fighting and dying if Australia comes under attack and, by the way, we are talking about Australian sons and daughters who would be willing to sacrifice their lives to help the United States.
"That is what an alliance means and when you think about it in those terms ... you realize this is a very special and indeed potent confidence building measure."
Armitage, visiting Australia just weeks after the departure of Powell and Rumsfeld, also issued a blunt warning to Canberra, saying it was in Australia's interests to join the U.S. in defending Taiwan in the event of a Chinese communist invasion.
During their visit in late July, Powell and Rumsfeld talked with their Australian hosts on closer strategic coordination between Washington and its three main Asia-Pacific allies ¡V Australia, Japan and South Korea.
But America's four-nation security alliance proposal has not been well received in the capitals of the three Asian countries. Officials of both Japan and South Korea have refrained from discussing it in public. Canberra has played down the proposal, describing it as just an idea "to informally bring together officials, not necessarily ministers, for a little bit more dialogue into the relationship." And the head of U.S. forces in the Asia-Pacific region, Admiral Denis Blair, said that such regional security talks were not aimed at hemming in mainland China.
However, with Armitage's remarks, it would be naive to expect Beijing to believe this was not a containment conspiracy against it.
Washington has also demonstrated its determination to defend Taiwan by other means.
Last Friday, two U.S. aircraft carriers staged a rare show of force in the South China sea in what was seen as a response to the People's Liberation Army's intimidating exercises in the Taiwan Strait.
The one-day exercise, carried out by the USS Carl Vinson, the USS Constellation and their battle groups, involved the launching of fighter jets and joint operations between the two battle groups.
While the U.S. Navy officially sought to play down its significance, the display of American military might was clearly designed to send a message to Beijing that America has an interest in the future of Taiwan.
The PLA war games, dubbed "Liberation 1," are reportedly the largest ever and have been in progress since June on and around Dongshan Island, off the coast of Fujian and Guangdong provinces facing Taiwan. They simulated an assault on one of Taiwan's outlying islands and an engagement with a U.S. aircraft carrier battle group.
The last time an exercise involving two U.S. aircraft carriers took place in the region was in August 1999 when tensions were high between Taipei and Beijing over former President Lee Teng-hui's proposal that cross-strait relations be conducted on a "state-to-state" basis.
Beijing responded to the U.S. military exercises by refusing to allow an American reconnaissance plane to land in Hong Kong on a training mission. However, the USS Constellation and its support ships were allowed to dock in Hong Kong Monday.
Indeed, it is gratifying to see the Bush administration's commitment to defending freedom and democracy.
But it is ironic that Washington continues to acknowledge the Chinese communist dictatorship's sovereignty claim over Taiwan and collaborate with it in isolating the island diplomatically.
Strategic containment of the communist dictatorship does not warrant diplomatic containment of democratic Taiwan.
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