Nuclear Weapons in the Taiwan Strait

Could China and the US go to war over Taiwan? Would nuclear weapons be used? Is defending Taiwan’s emerging democracy worth the risk? Out latest blog series looks back at the history of US-China-Taiwan relations in search of answers.


Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon and Deng Xiaoping during the state dinner for the Vice Premier of China.

Council on Foreign Relations Gives Terrible Advice on Taiwan and China

, China project manager and senior analyst

Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, recently called for a major change in US policy towards Taiwan. He wants the United States to provide the island with a guarantee of US military protection from China. He argues it is the best way to keep the peace. He’s wrong.

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What is the Secret Agreement between the United States and China on Taiwan?

, China project manager and senior analyst

US President Richard Nixon told Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai the United States recognized Taiwan was a part of China. Nixon made the statement during secret talks conducted during his historic visit to China in 1972. But what Nixon said in secret was intentionally obscured in the joint communiqué the two governments issued after the talks concluded.

This extraordinary act of deception, mistakenly heralded as an act of diplomatic genius, created a long-lived misunderstanding about US policy towards Taiwan that continues to poison US-China relations to this day.

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Do US Nuclear Weapons Help Protect Taiwan?

, China project manager and senior analyst

In an earlier post I explained there is a risk the United States and China could go to war over Taiwan. The United States is prepared to use nuclear weapons to win that war. Some believe that helps protect Taiwan. But does it?

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Cancel Culture in an Emerging Democracy

, China project manager and senior analyst

A shared sense of history is a core component of human culture, but a lot of what our political leaders tell us about history is wrong. Sometimes terribly wrong. Correcting the record can be good for democracy. Taiwan is showing us how, and the United States could learn from its experience.

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Could China and the United States Go to War over Taiwan?

, China project manager and senior analyst

Yes. Both sides are preparing for that war. Both sides also have nuclear weapons. China declared it will never use them first under any circumstances, but US policy allows for the first use of nuclear weapons if victory cannot be assured by other means. China has promised to retaliate if struck first. So, a nuclear war over Taiwan, while unlikely, is possible.

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