U.S. Ambivalence on Taiwan Risks Emboldening China

U.S. Ambivalence on Taiwan Risks Emboldening China

NEW YORK -- As the government of Taiwan revives its multifaceted push for recognition as an independent state, Washington faces a crucial test of its international credibility on the issue of democracy.

The Taiwan Straits is one of the world's deadliest flashpoints, with more than 900 Chinese missiles aimed at Taiwan, which the Chinese Communist Party calls a "renegade province." The United States is, perhaps understandably, wary of supporting Taiwan's desire to hold a referendum or seek independence, which it fears could trigger an armed conflict with China. But by failing to clearly voice its support for Taiwan, the United States risks emboldening China.

Friends and allies in Asia still vividly remember America's conduct in the Vietnam War, when the Nixon administration hastily retreated from South Vietnam after a shaky deal with the Vietcong. What followed after the U.S. troop withdrawal changed Indochina's history.

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