Analysis & Opinions - Just Security

Taiwan vs. Tyranny: The US Must Redouble Its Commitment to Secure this Shining Hill of Democracy in East Asia

| July 08, 2021

With a string of U.S. allies in East Asia wary of China's rising power, the region is a focus of growing security concerns. A key U.S. partner, Taiwan, is in a particularly precarious situation, as Beijing has never abandoned the vision of the island's reunification with mainland China. The Biden administration is taking steps, as it did at the recent NATO Summit, to reassure American allies about the longstanding U.S. commitment to their security, ties that were seriously undermined by President Joe Biden's predecessor.

But after decades of being mired in the Middle East and Afghanistan, the pressures are strong to minimize U.S. security engagements abroad. The Biden administration and Congress should beware of yielding to these short-term pressures. Taiwan warrants a stalwart U.S. security commitment not only to stymie China's strategic but relentless crawl in East Asia. Amid the march of illiberal regimes across the globe and in the face of intensifying pressure from the mainland, Taiwan functions as a true democracy. As such, it is a bellwether for other states and territories at risk of authoritarian backsliding — or conquest — and a glowing example of what a liberal democracy and open society could bring to the peoples of Asia and elsewhere. A look at its history reveals Taiwan's resilience, as well as how — and why — the United States should reinforce its support.

An Unlikely State

Taiwan has survived and thrived against great odds. In 1949, when Communist forces led by Mao Tse-tung prevailed in the Chinese civil war following the end of World War II, what was left of the defeated forces of the Republic of China (ROC) led by Chiang Kai-shek fled to the island of Taiwan off the South China coast. A victorious Mao on Oct. 1, 1949, announced the creation of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and claimed that the PRC was now the sole legal government of the Chinese people. The ROC in response declared from Taiwan that it was the legitimate government in-exile. So it remained for more than three decades, until 1979. During this time, the ROC represented China at the United Nations....

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Budjeryn, Mariana and Amb. Thomas Graham Jr..“Taiwan vs. Tyranny: The US Must Redouble Its Commitment to Secure this Shining Hill of Democracy in East Asia.” Just Security, July 8, 2021.

The Authors