Why Would the US Get Involved the China Taiwan Thing?

I have heard some pretty scary reports about the China-Taiwan problem. I have heard that if China attacks Taiwan we would retaliate(sp). Well that would hack off China so they will probably get in a war with us.

Do we really get involved in a conflict with China? I don’t think so.

I mean if we want to show off our military might with a little country like Iraq with its wackup dictator Sodamninsane that’s find. But China that is one country we don’t want to mess with. So I say who cares what China does to Taiwon that is their business why are we sticking our busy body nose in it risking American lives and money?

I think there should be public vote about this issue and not leave it up to the warmonger polititians in office.

I would imagine that this is exactly why we’d consider showing them who’s boss: China is the one country we don’t want thinking they’re the one country we don’t want to mess with.

Um, Bill? There was a public vote. That’s how those “warmonger politicians” got put into office. That’s how a representational democracy works.

All that said, we wouldn’t probably be considering such a thing if there weren’t A) big bucks involved (look how we prostitute our human rights principles for a few cheaply made plastic toys), and B) we weren’t afraid that China’s wondering about our super powerfulness.

Also, the Cold War gave us a stage to look big and tough on. Without that, we need to elicit an “Uncle!” from the occasional bully to keep up appearances.

So, Wildest Bill is actually a dove? lol!

Well Bill, I think the quickest answer to why would the USA get involved in war between the two Chinas is because you can (I say, ‘you’, being a smug Canadian).

When has the USA ever failed to “stand up for democracy?” Why, in the Persian Gulf you committed half a million troops to the just cause of returning democracy to an patriarchy in which women and ethnic minorities can’t vote.

So the burning question before Congress would be: do we let our democratically-elected brothers in Taipei take a pasting from shore-fired rockets and do nothing?

(worth noting that even the most liberal estimates place a full-scale invasion of ROC by PRC as unlikely to impossible - PRC doesn’t have the RORO ships needed to move armour, nor do they have adequate amphibious assault boats to move the grunts. And even if they did, there’d be a US Carrier Group blocking the straight)

If PRC openly assualted ROC today, I bet you $10 that the USA would respond by lifting China’s newly-won permanent MFN status, blocking their ascension to WTO, loaning a ton of military hardware (including AEGIS and Patriot systems)and satellite imagery to the ROC forces, but only firing if fired upon directly. (That’s the reason the USA always has at least one hull in port in Taiwan - makes the PRC think twice about blasting the port when they’d be nailing USS Popeye in so doing.)

You’re right in asserting that PRC is one country you can’t bomb into submission - I’d add to that list however any other country with nuclear-tipped ballistic missles.

Let’s also consider some other facts.

1.) We’ve had treaties and promises of defense to Taiwan for fifty years. From the late Forties to the early Seventies, we considered the government of Taiwan to be the ‘real’ government of China. If we turn to them and say, “Well, okay, we won’t actually protect you if China gets uppity”, then what does that say to other countries we have such treaties with? That those binding documents just really only matter when we feel like it?

2.) It’s quite possible that the only thing keeping China from just invading Taiwan and absorbing it is our stated position of retaliation. Now, if we back out from that, what’s to stop China from invading North Korea, then pushing into South Korea, then going south and taking over Vietnam and Thailand, etc.? After all, none of those countries has a military that even compares to China; all could bowl over due to China’s threats to use atomic weapons; and if the U.S. firmly establishes that it’s just not got to bother to fight for Taiwan, why should China expect a fight over South Korea or Thailand?

This speaks to my biggest gripe about Bush/Gore - I have no idea what either man would do in this case. I’ve heard empty platitudes, gloating, name calling, and a ton of other crap from both of the idiots that we are supposed to consider as “the best man for the job of president,” but I have yet to hear how either of them would handle a crisis of this proportion. It seems like a perfectly logical question, why won’t the press ask it?

In theory, China’s military actually poses little threat to average US citizen. Unless they are willing to use nukes (which is extremely unlikely) the only way China can threaten the US mainland is through terrorist action. The US, on the other hand, has demonstrated its ability to project military power halfway around the world if needed.

Indeed, no war is a happy prospect, and a ground war on mainland China might be unwinnable. But rest assured that a Taiwan conflict would almost certainly be air/sea fighting in and over the strait, and AFAIK the US holds the best hand in that poker game.

John, who cares about Taiwan, Vietnam or any of those countries let em kill each other until the cows come home. Why do a Americans need to die for every little sqirmish these countries come up with? And as far as that document your talking about why did we sign that in the first place? Did they give us money for protection or something?

>> who cares about Taiwan, Vietnam or any of those countries let em kill each other until the cows come home

This kind of thinking has lead to big problems in the past. I will only mention the example of Hitler who would have been much easier to stop before he invaded half of Europe.

Wildest Bill, you are showing a lot of ignorance about world affairs. So you would let China have its way all around Asia? You think America has no interests to defend there? Even the concept that people and whole countries should not be massacred? You would just go on trading with China like nothing has happened?

You follow that policy and you’ll find one day, in the not so distant future, when China is telling you what you can do or not do much closer to home. You wanna stop them then?

(Y’know, if you hit the “Clear Fields” button instead of “Submit Reply” by accident, you lose your entire message? Nuts.)

I take it then that you’re a bit standoffish about our entry into World War II? Hey, the Germans were just killing other foreigners; why should we interfere?

As for these other countries, the fact that the U.S. is willing to get involved and willing to sacrifice men is, in fact, helping to keep the peace. Areas where we made it public knowledge that we don’t care to interefere- Africa following Somalia, the former Yugoslavia, etc.- have fallen into bloodbaths. By making guarantees to Taiwan and Thailand, we have, in some small way at least, avoided bloodbaths and wars there.

The treaties with Thailand and Taiwan were signed in the early 1950’s, at the start of the Cold War. The U.S. was afraid that Communist Chinese expansionism would lead to Finlandization of Southeastern Asian countries, and given that we were trying to prevent countries from going Communist, we signed treaties with Thailand and Taiwan to assure protection in order to deter further Chinese action (either overt or covert).

Why is it we always get involved in these things? Who made us the world police? Why didn’t we get involved in the Russian problem just here lately if it is our job to police the world?

Second if I remember right the only reason we got involved in WWII was because Japan messed with us first?

First off the US has generally been vague about its committment to defending Taiwan. We have told China that we would view this very badly and left our options open as to a response but, to my knowledge, we do not have a defense treaty with Taiwan like we do with Japan. Also, I think only Governor Bush has expressed defending Taiwan…Gore has been dodgy on this point.

Up till recently this has been ok. China didn’t, still doesn’t, have a prayer of successfully invading Taiwan. Taiwan is like an Asian Israel in that it has powerful nearby enemies and is armed to the teeth with top-of-the-line weapons. China lacks any credible amphibious invasion force (i.e. the means to move large numbers of troops over water and keep most of them alive long enough to do some good at the other end). This is changing though and China has been working diligently to obtain this capability but they’re years away yet. If China moved today Taiwan wouldn’t need our help…they’d sink anything that moved in the straight between them and China.

Sure, China could nuke Taiwan or maybe bomb them into the stone age but China does not want a radioactive hulk off its coast nor does it merely want land. China wants the economic miracle that is Taiwan and for that they need to take it mostly intact without destroying too much infrastructure in the process. Hence invasion with LOTS of troops is about the only option.
The US cares and wants to defend Taiwan for the following reasons:

  1. The US opposes aggresion anywhere in the world and will not tolerate naked aggression (yeah right…I’m not kidding anyone here am I? This one is a politician sound bite).

  2. The US opposes the spread of communism. This reason is more real. We really do oppose communism wherever it may rise. The US does not seem to care much what government replaces communism however and will settle for dictators if it comes to that.

  3. The REAL reason! $54,000,000,000.00 in combined trade in 1999 between the two countries. If China wiped Taiwan off the map tomorrow even the big US economy would take a noticeable hit. Lots of businesses make lots of money trading with Taiwan and those businesses donate money to political parties.

Finally, I do agree with other posters that blatant aggression on the scale we’re talking about here has to be opposed. Unopposed aggression only encourages more aggression. Sooner or later they’ll get around to something you REALLY care about and now you have a MUCH bigger problem on your hands (insert obligatory Hitler reference in here and add Neville Chamberlain as the yutz who let him get away with murder till it was far too late).

Let’s stop and think about this for a second.

Look inside your computer. See those parts? Most made in Taiwan.
See your TV? Parts made in Taiwan, chances are.
Look at any piece of electronic equipment. Probably born in Taiwan. Lots of advanced stuff. Imagine all that falling into their hands overnight. Imagine the stock crash, the economic collapse that would happen in the good old USA.

Oh yeah… there’s also quite a few people over there. Guys and Gals who merely work at some 9-5 job, and go home to the kids. You know, common people. Willing to see them evaporate in a puff of smoke?

Would you be so Cavilier if it were you?


That was a good reply post. I understand it a little bit better now?

Now if we did get involved would they shoot nukes at us and how people would they kill over here with our defense tech as it stands?

Also why didn’t we send in special forces to just assasinate loony Hitler back in WWII? All we would had to do was to offer a 10 million dollar bounty to the first person that brought back his goofy little mustache with his lip still on it.

A big YOO for Jeff’s contestant number 3. It is, of course, all a hang over from the Cold War when the US had to stand up – and even more importantly, be seen to stand up - for fragile, new shoots of democracy (read: free markets needing to borrow money from you to buy goods from you . A double whammy of protecting investment and future markets).
The scenario was repeated across Asia, Africa, South / Central America and bits and pieces elsewhere.
Now the Cold War is over (and most overseas markets now being fairly safe and stable), that firm policy is nowhere near as important as it once was. Which makes life interesting for the Taiwanese.
China is partial to a bluff and if the leaders feel a need to do what Galtieri did in Argentina over the Falklands, things could become troubling. For what it’s worth, I think Taiwan is probably the hottest (potential) hot spot left from the old days. I hope the next President isn’t tested - early in the election cycle is a good time to try a bluff or two.

Err, Jeff. there is also the theory that Chamberlain was as intent on buying time (to re-arm) as much as placating our neighborhood megalomaniac.

It’s us who gets involved because it’s us who have the capacity to get involved. Of course, in fact, we don’t always get involved; Rwanda, for example, where no one got involved and most people died in a miserable civil war; Sierra Leone, where the UN tried to get involved without our help but couldn’t stop the nasty, brutish civil war; etc.

We made ourselves the world police by working to be the strongest, best armed nation in the world. With great power comes great opportunity to step in and prevent suffering. Given that most people consider suffering a bad thing, and that a small suffering for us to prevent a large suffering for others is a good thing to do (y’know, like that entire Christian thing?), it falls to us and to the other strong nations (like the NATO countries, who worked just as hard, if not harder, and suffered more in Kosovo) to stop it.

But we could’ve just as easily staved off fighting in Germany and eventually signed a peace treaty with them to avoid American bloodshed; after all, they weren’t the ones who had bombed Pearl Harbor. They hadn’t really been messing with us at all. So why go invade them and kill off thousands of American boys just to go fight someone who wasn’t a direct threat to us?

A.) Uh-huh. And then every other country decides, “Hey, if we don’t like the President of this other country, it’s perfectly acceptable for us to hire people to assassinate him; after all, they set the precedent with Hitler!” Not a good precedent to set, unless you like U.S. Presidents getting killed every three months.

B.) And that would have changed things, how? Remember, Hitler didn’t appear in a vacuum. His popularity was because many regular Germans agreed with his positions. He wasn’t a brilliant bureaucrat or strategist; he was just a good orator and poltician. But assassinate him, and what happens? Maybe you get a better bureaucrat or strategist, one who decides not to invade Russia without a better timeline, or one who truly gets German industry ramped up to production. Sure, the Nazis have lost a great orator, but now they have a martyr, someone who was ruthlessly murdered by the British/American/French/whatever government. Watch German public opinion of the Nazis jump through the roof, just like American public opinion of Kennedy (also a great speaker but not a great leader).

  1. China ain’t gonna shoot its nukes at us, unless we shoot first (or invade). China has make nuclear weapons, but a very limited number of ICBM’s. With this “missile gap”, China’s strategic position against the US (and Russia) is, “if you start shooting nukes at us, do you really want to take the chance you’ll get all of our missile silos before we can launch?” IOW, China can really hurt us with nukes, on the order probably 5-10 major U.S. cities gutted and millions dead. We, OTOH, can eliminate the Chinese population.
    That being said, if they do launch their ICBM’s, we can’t stop them now.

  2. As a matter of historical record, the U.S. didn’t really have special forces in WWII. Special forces developed during the course of the war, borrowing heavily from the British Commando system. In any event, assassinating the leader of a major hostile power in time of war is a difficult, if not impossible, undertaking, even today. Hell, even the Germans couldn’t do it (see the bomb plot of 1944).


Wildest Bill – the SAS was created in 1940 in the North African desert. My understanding is that it was the worlds first ‘special forces’ unit. By then it was proving a little difficult to gain access to Hitler.

The assassination of Arch Duke Ferdinand led to a nasty little conflict between 1914-18. The results of assassinations aren’t always easy to foresee.

Also, doesn’t your Constitution forbid State sanctioned assassination of other leaders ? (hollow laughter…)

Never stopped us before… Good joke, BTW.


You got me on the Christian point. I wasn’t being a very good one huh?

I am just concerned that if indeed we got in a War with China it is going to be very very costly(in lives)war. The weapons now are so much better(if you call killing millions of people more efficiently better that is)than they were in WWII and looked how many people that war killed.

And you know if we go to war with China, Russia is going to help them. So WWIII could be it for you and me which I guess I could handle :wink: but man I got three special ladies and a dog in my life that I would hate to see any harm come to.

SuaSponte is right on. The US (nobody for that matter) has the ability to stop a ballistic missile once it’s launched. The US hopes to get this ability someday but that topic is for another thread.

The main calculation in determining threat between two countries is how good you think the other side’s missiles are and how many they can pop off before you take out their silos (if you can take out their silos). Remember, flinging a steel tube thousands of miles and having it actually hit what you are aiming for is quite difficult. The US has some super accurate missiles and the Russians have fairly accurate missiles (part of the reason Russian missiles carry bigger warheads is to mitigate the effects of being off target…who cares if you hit New Jersey while aiming for New York if your BOOM is big enough to cover half the state anyway?). I’m not sure of the state and capabilities of Chinese missiles.

In general there is no way any country like China or Russia will initiate a nuclear exchange with the US unless they are in danger of losing their country outright. Most countries know if they try this they stand a very real possibility of getting a face full of nukes right back. As big as China is the US arsenal could easily turn their population from the largest in the world to one of the smallest.

However, this does not take into account tactical nukes. Low yield bombs that are meant for use in battle and not for city busting. It’s unlikely but conceivable China might fling one or two to clear out the more difficult resistance and apologize later. I’m not sure what the US would do in that case. Probably yell and scream a lot but not much else. It wouldn’t be enough for us to respond in kind even if US troops got killed.

London_Calling [hijack]
To me the argument that Neville was clever and trying to buy time doesn’t wash with me. Chamberlain was more along the lines of Wildest Bill here and let Hitler go too far before realizing his mistake. By the time re-arming programs were underway Hitler was too strong (as evidenced by the British sent streaming back across the Channel in the early days of the war). After that the Brits couldn’t do much more than hang tough till the US got off it’s lazy ass and entered the war (life is a lot easier for a country at war when said country never gets bombed). You may say that hindsight is easy so give poor Neville a break but that’s what he’s there for. To make the BIG decisions. You don’t credit a football coach for a stupid move saying that in hindsight the correct decision is obvious but how could he have known. If you want to play with the big dogs you have to be prepared to piss in the tall grass.[/hijack]