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Taiwan Crisis: An American Creation

MG is a senior air warrior who has seen combat and is an alumnus of the Staff College and a writer on military matters.



There is a crisis brewing in the Eastern Pacific that in some ways is bigger than the Ukraine war. This is the problem of Taiwan( Formosa). Many people are of the opinion that the problem of Taiwan is created by China and it is the aggressor and is trying to attack a small independent country. Joe Biden has said he would use force if necessary to defend Taiwan but the White House downplayed the remarks.

What is the fact? Is China really the aggressor? or it is something else. Taiwan (Formosa) is a small island with about 20 million people separated from the Chinese mainland by the Strait of Taiwan. It is accepted by the world as well as the USA as a part of China. How did this happen? A study of history reveals that the Americans committed some cardinal blunders and they cooked their goose

Taiwan was under the rule of the various dynasties that ruled China. Towards the fag end of the 19th-century war broke out between Korea and Japan. The Chinese went for the help of the Koreans but were badly defeated. This defeat had its repercussions they had to cede the island of Formosa to Japan. The Japanese took over the island in 1895 and It remained under Imperial Japanese rule until 1945. The basis of this was the treaty of Shimonsky which was signed in 1895.

For almost half a century (1895-1945) it remained a part of Japan until the Americans dropped the atomic bombs. Japan surrendered and lost control of Formosa. The Americans at that time committed their first blunder. President Truman handed over the island to China though it had no control over the island for half a century.

The Americans at that time implicitly trusted the Chinese leadership, as the de facto ruler of China was General Chiang Kai Shek who had close ties with America. He represented the Nationalists or the Koumingtan who was fighting the communists. Unknown to American policymakers Chiang was on a weak wicket and in the ensuing civil war with the communists under Mao Tse Tung, he was defeated.

Chiang and his supporters numbering almost a million fled the mainland and took refuge on the island of Formosa. They set up their nationalist government there and the Communist Party under Mao took over the mainland. At that time China never had the amphibious capability to launch an invasion, so they let matters lie


The second blunder took place when Chiang kai-Shek decided that he would represent entire China and the Americans agreed. They put into effect the 'one China ' policy.

The Americans were nonplussed and confused and for the next 25 years, they lived with the dream that Chiang would take over the mainland. Thinking that Chiang would ultimately prevail they made the Koumingtan, a member of the Security Council. Perhaps this second blunder could have been avoided case Formosa or Taiwan was incorporated as a separate country and China was not been given a seat in the Security Council.

Frankly, China didn't deserve to be a member of the SC but that's another point. The Americans realized that they can't carry on with this charade so they decided to dump Chiang Kai Shek and made overtures to mainland China, which was now in the grip of Mao Tse Tung. The American big business was behind this policy change in the hope of a massive market for American goods.

The American thinking was that China will not be able to economically match the United States and will always remain a subsidiary power. It was also thought of as an excellent ploy to use against Russia.

President Richard Nixon and his sidekick Henry Kissinger then did something very foolish. We can see in hindsight they decided to open up to Red China because of the chimera of a lucrative massive Chinese market. They bought in technology and poured in millions of dollars. Nixon made a visit to China and threw in the towel. Chiang kai-Shek at that time was alive and had been an ally of America for close to 40 years. They forgot about him and the man just died and went away.

The Americans made some significant concessions. They accepted the Chinese demand that there is only one China. They accepted a second demand that Taiwan or Formosa will never be made an independent country. When Richard Nixon made these two concessions he tied an anchor around the neck of the subsequent American leadership. This concession can be seen in the light of the fact that it has now given legal justification to China to take back a renegade province even by military means.

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As the Americans did not recognize Taiwan as an independent country, if China was to ever attack Taiwan it would have the legal justification for it. Taiwan was doomed from the word "go' as Nixon recognized the ONE CHINA policy as the cornerstone of his policy.

In America Nixon is recognized as "tricky Dick". I don't think he was tricky as he was actually a foolish man who tied down the American policy for the next 50 years.

The net result of Nixon's surrender is that America missed another opportunity and they tied their own feet. If you look in hindsight you can see who's to blame. America held all the aces in their hands, Taiwan was occupied by them; they could have declared Taiwan an independent country and they could have said we do not recognize the one-China principle. We believe in self-determination but they didn't do anything and the problem of Taiwan was hatched.

Initially, the Americans were pretty happy with the status quo because they were getting a lot of income from China. Chinese- American trade went up to 600 billion dollars a year though weighted in favor of China. The big trade corporations all went to China; they poured in billions of dollars as well as funded research and technology. Before the Americans could sense anything, China arose like a Phoenix. it was like Rip van Winkle who went to sleep and when he woke up after 20 years he thought it was only one night.

China became the second biggest economy in the world. their military began to move by leaps and bounds. They began to threaten India and all the neighbors and they also made it clear to the Americans that Taiwan belonged to them and they had every right to occupy it.

International law tells us that any renegade province of any country can be taken over by that country. This is a recognized principle of international law. The Americans are on an extremely sticky wicket and in case there is a war they will have to decide whether they want to fight for Taiwan. They know fighting for Taiwan is a losing proposition.

At the moment China does not have the amphibious capability to launch an invasion but maybe in another two years' time or even earlier China will have the capability. China is of course the biggest economy in the world and they have the biggest army and Russia is an ally. The Americans bungled badly in dealing with Russia. They created Russia as an enemy and they're paying the price for it.

To my way of thinking the American military is petrified of fighting China. This can be seen from the fact that Nancy Pelosi when she wanted to visit Taiwan, the main objection came from the American military, who felt it will antagonize China.

America has no ally in Asia worth any military power. They also don't have a happy record in Asia. They lost in Afghanistan, got defeated in Vietnam and they couldn't win in Korea.

America RIP

The Americans, let's accept the fact have committed unpardonable mistakes and blunders. They could have recognized Taiwan as an independent country much earlier. They could have separated Taiwan from China and at the same time gotten it international recognition. But that moment has passed.

As it stands, the Taiwanese president is shouting from the rooftops; 'we are an independent country, but the world doesn't recognize it. A clue to American thinking can be gleaned from the fact that they handed over the South China Sea on a platter to China. President Duterte of the Philippines has said that if the Americans were serious to contain China they could've sent five aircraft carriers into the South China Sea years back and nipped the problem in the bud. Unfortunately for men like Duterte, the Americans are thinking they would be allies with China till they got a rap on their knuckles..

Why they didn't do it? they were just feeling China would be the yes man but they didn't understand Chinese history. That's the American problem. China has got a history of four thousand years and produced great military theorists like Sun Tzu. America with a history of just 300 years doesn't know how to pull its chestnuts from the fire. What to do? By antagonizing Russia they created the China- Russia alliance.

The sum total is, that this is an entirely American creation, an American problem and there is no solution, other than at some stage Taiwan will have to go back to China. That is the fact.

Field Martial Maneckshaw had said to his soldiers, you go and fight and if you lose don't come back. But the Americans have been losing every war and still, they come back and go into the next war. The blunders from the time of Truman to Biden have caught up with them. The old saying as you sow so shall you reap could be true and I have an uncanny feeling the sun is setting on American hegemony.

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