According to today’s hot doc, the US Air Force was ready and willing to drop nuclear bombs on Communist China at the outset of the 1958 Taiwan Strait Crisis. This 13 August 1958 State Department memo describes blow-by-blow how a dispute over two islands in the Taiwan Strait could have evolved into “general nuclear war between the US and the USSR.”It reads like a computer game player's fantasy of global destruction.... and it also shows how far things have come since those horrible days. Recently the China Reform Monitor offered a couple of paragraphs from the Chinese papers on possible KMT-CCP military cooperation over "Chinese territory".
This memo, sent to President Eisenhower’s Under Secretary of State, Christian Herter, depicts how nuclear war between the USA and USSR could have evolved from a dispute between Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China over the islands of Quemoy and Matsu. Taiwan held these two strategically important islands, but the PRC also claimed (and shelled) them. America’s “existing contingent war plans,” derived from its 1954 security agreement with Taiwan, “call[ed] for the defense of Quemoy and Matsu by nuclear strikes deep into Communist China, including military targets in the Shanghai-Hangchow-Nanking and Canton complexes where population density is extremely high.“
The Beijing-owned Ta Kung Pao that People’s Liberation Army Major General Luo Yuan, deputy secretary general of the Chinese Military Science Society, has called “for military cooperation between China and Taiwan under the ‘One China’ principle.” He blamed U.S. arms sales for damaging cross-Strait relations and advocated the development of “a cross-Strait military trust and security mechanism.”Cross-Strait military cooperation. What a nightmare of complications that would present. Both Taiwan and China have, since 1969, claimed the Senkaku Islands, which had previously been undisputed Japanese territory. The US bound by Treaty to defend Japan. What if China moves on that once it has settled the Taiwan Question?
[Editor’s Note: Four days later the Wen Wei Po, another Beijing-owned Hong Kong daily, published a similar report claiming “there is vast space for defense cooperation in the South China Sea between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.” The article said “the basic foundation for cross-strait cooperation in the South China Sea is that neither side is willing to cede Chinese territory to other countries” and it could include the joint exploitation of oil resources.]
More interesting is whether such cooperation would call upon KMT military authorities in Taiwan to suppress independence activists if the PRC demands it.
A longtime observer of Taiwan defense affairs noted that a military pact is probably in the cards for Ma, especially if gets elected to a second term. Or sooner, if it looks like Ma will lose.
Daily Links I:
- China bubble about to burst?
- Stop appeasing China, says Greg Sheridan of the Australian
- Chinese firm conduit for illegal shipments of nuke tech to Iran. Iran's nuke program is clearly one of China's great foreign policy successes.
- Jamestown Brief on China-Taiwan missile issues, with Beijing installing upgraded systems pointed at Taiwan. It begins, as all such pieces do, with "Despite the growing thaw..." Funny how, if relations are improving, the missiles keep going up.
- Taiwan News editorializes on Ma's visit to the Pacific Islands
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