A Double-Minded Man

U.S. waffling is putting Taiwan in tough straits

Over 50 years ago, the tiny island nation of Taiwan was officially recognized after heroically standing in the face of communism. The greatest support came from the United States and Britain. Because they maintained preeminence in the Far East through military bases, colonies and protectorates, their support legitimized Taiwan’s courageous fight for democracy.

As the Trumpet has chronicled for over a decade, U.S. and British dominance is fading. They have abandoned their responsibility to defend and protect freedom and democracy throughout Asia, leaving Taiwan in a tenuous position.

Taiwan’s presidential election in 1996 was influenced by Chinese saber rattling, including live-fire missile tests into the Taiwan Strait. The U.S. matched this provocation by dispatching two aircraft carrier battle groups to the South China Sea. Washington’s message was clear—do not interfere with Taiwan!

With another Taiwanese presidential election slated for March 18, tensions are rising again. Chinese Vice Premier Qian Qichen warned, “Taiwan independence could only mean war between the two sides” (Inside China Today, Jan. 31). Mr. Qichen further stated that foreign intervention on behalf of Taiwan would be considered “dangerous action.”

The situation became more complicated in February. China’s first Russian-built guided-missile destroyer recently arrived in the East China Sea, enhancing Beijing’s ability to threaten American aircraft carriers in any future encounters over Taiwan, according to the New York Times. China once lacked the ability to challenge the U.S. Navy at sea. Now that has changed, with the addition of this destroyer and four new Kilo-class submarines. “These two systems, in particular, are ones that give us pause and make us realize that we are in fact going in harm’s way,” said Eric McVadon, a retired rear admiral who was a defense and naval attaché in Beijing and is now a consultant on East Asian security affairs. “That’s something the Chinese didn’t possess before.”

Armed with nuclear-capable Sunburn anti-ship missiles, China’s new destroyer will make America think twice before deploying the pride of its military power in the China Sea. These surface-skimming missiles have a range of 65-nautical miles and carry a 200-kiloton nuclear warhead. They are specifically designed to penetrate U.S. Navy defensive systems.

To counter the new Chinese destroyer, Taiwan has requested four U.S.-made Aegis destroyers, submarines, a sophisticated defensive radar system, P3 anti-submarine aircraft, and additional Patriot missile batteries. Further, Taipei enthusiastically supports the development and eventual deployment of a Theater Missile Defense (tmd) system for their nation. Tmd theoretically provides a protective blanket over the nation by shooting down incoming missiles. Taiwan requires a reliable anti-missile system to counter China’s escalating deployment of short-range missiles.

The U.S. Defense Department and Congress both recommend resumed high-tech arms deals and military training with Taiwan. With widespread support—founded upon knowledgeable sources capable of making such recommendations—one would think logical leaders would immediately back Taiwan. But White House leadership has threatened to block the proposed deal. This is an example of floundering American leadership. A house divided against itself cannot stand (Matt. 12:25). The United States is about to fall because it is so divided. We cannot effectively lead the world unless it is united in rule from the top down. Leadership must be resolute, acting with a single focus.

The Apostle James noted, “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8). That is precisely the problem with the United States’ official position on the Taiwan issue. The U.S. have tried to appease both sides. Throughout the 1990s, it has voiced mixed support for both China and Taiwan. Washington’s double-minded leadership makes it unstable as an ally of Taiwan. And the Chinese will capitalize on this weakness.

Republican representative Tom DeLay of Texas noted: “Any mixed signals by our government can easily be read by the Communist Chinese as complacency. The Congress must erase any doubt whether or not we are fully committed to Taiwan” (aptn, Feb. 2). That is the main issue facing the people of Taiwan—will the United States defend their nation in the event of war with China, as it is obligated under the Taiwan Relations Act?

Sadly, Taiwan will be left to defend itself against overwhelming odds. Lacking tangible Western support, it is only a matter of time before Taiwan falls to the expanding Chinese regime.