CHINA / National

US must stay out of Beijing-Taipei spat
Updated: 2006-04-14 08:36

The United States should renounce military commitments to Taipei to avoid a potentially costly conflict if the island declares independence from China, said the author of book which warns of a possible US-China war within the next decade.

Ted Galen Carpenter, vice-president for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute. []
Defending Taiwan from the assault, that Beijing threatens to unleash in the event of an independence declaration, is "a bridge too far" for the United States, said Ted Galen Carpenter, vice-president for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute, a libertarian Washington think tank.

His book, "America's Coming War with China: A Collision Course over Taiwan," says the United States stands between two inexorably opposed forces and unfinished Chinese civil war.

"There may not be a way to avoid a collision between the two, unless one side or another blinks," Carpenter told Reuters in an interview. "What the United States needs to do is to get out of the middle of that quarrel."

A war between the United States and China could erupt by about 2013, the estimated date Beijing would be militarily capable of taking back Taiwan, Carpenter says in the book. An attack on Taiwan could draw in the United States because it has given defense assurances to the island.

"At some point either Taiwan provokes Beijing beyond endurance or Beijing decides the time is right to settle this issue on Chinese terms," Carpenter, a frequent author on military issues, said in the interview with Reuters.

"Given the trends on Taiwan and the mainland, I think a collision is very likely at some point within the next decade," he said.

Chinese President Hu Jintao will visit the United States next week and is expected to press President George W. Bush to do more to rein in Taiwan, which has angered Beijing by taking steps to loosen the island's ties to the mainland.

China says it will use military force if Taiwan declares independence. The United States admits Beijing's "one China" policy -- that Beijing is the sole legitimate government of China, and Taiwan is an integral territorial part of China, but the Taiwan Relations Act approved by the Congress says Washington would provide arms to help defend Taiwan.

Withdrawing the U.S. defense commitment "will be a very hard sell politically," Carpenter acknowledges. But he argues that more arms sales to Taiwan might provide cover for Washington to back away from a pledge of direct involvement.


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