The democratic island of Taiwan has never been ruled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), nor formed part of the People's Republic of China. The United States cannot desire to defend Taiwan more fervently than Taiwan desires to defend Taiwan. For Taiwan, the Mainland Communist regime surely poses an existential threat, both to the sovereignty and independence of the Taiwan government, as well as to the way of life of the Taiwan people. For China, Taiwan seems increasingly to pose an existential threat, as the liberties enjoyed on Taiwan are increasingly in short supply on the Mainland. In a cross-Strait war, Taiwan cannot afford to lose. Whether the government in Beijing can afford to fail in its next attempt to Liberate Taiwan is an unexplored question, since it can always make further attempts, sooner or later.

While the defense of Taiwan might pose an existential threat to the United States, in the form of Chinese nuclear escalation, the loss of Taiwan would not pose an existential threat to the United States. The United States provided treaty-bound security guarantees to Ukraine in the 1990s in order to trick Kiev into giving up its Soviet nuclear legacy, but almost no one seems to have noticed these paper guarantees when Russia grabbed Crimea. The formal American security commitment to Taiwan is even more tenuous. Washington is required by treaty to provide Taiwan with the means for Taiwan to defend itself, but not itself to defense Taiwan.

More than 50 percent of the American public would support U.S. military intervention to defend Taiwan against invasion by China, according to an August 2021 opinion survey in the US. "When asked about a range of potential scenarios, just over half of Americans (52 percent) favor using U.S. troops to defend if China were to invade the island," the Chicago Council Survey said. "This is the highest level ever recorded in the Council’s surveys dating back to 1982, when the question was first asked."

Survey data showed that a majority of Americans supported a range of U.S. policies towards Taiwan including official recognition as an independent country, inclusion in international organizations, and a U.S.-Taiwan free trade agreement, it said. "Chinese intimidation of Taiwan has increased since 2016, demonstrated by naval drills in the Taiwan Strait, incursions into Taiwanese airspace, and economic coercion targeted at Taiwanese industries," the report said.

However, 47 percent believed the U.S. shouldn't sell arms or military equipment to Taiwan, compared with 50 percent who believed it should. Sixty percent of Republicans polled supported military intervention over Taiwan, compared with 50 percent of Democrats. Sixty percent of poll respondents saw Taiwan either as an ally or a necessary partner, while 61 percent saw China as a rival or an adversary.

The American policy community needs to weigh very carefully American interests in the defense of Taiwan, which might be great [the defense of a fellow democracy yearning to be free against a brutal dictatorship], or might be quite significant [maintaining the credibility of security guarantees to South Korea and Japan], or might not be so great [delaying the inevitable South Korean and Japanese acquisition of nuclear weapons after the American withdrawal from the East Asian periphery]. American need not win to win - the American withdrawal from Vietnam had remarkably little impact on American alliance relations, coming after the sacrifice in blood and treasure to sustain alliance credibility. Possibly all that would be required of America would be to put up a good fight, though withdrawing in the face of Chinese threats which would tarnish Beijing's standing in the world for many decades.

On May 26, 2006, William M. Arkin reported that the 5077 plan to defend Taiwan from a Chinese attack dates back from the Reagan administration, and has been successively updated and expanded over the years. Until 2001, the plan was what was called a "CONPLAN," which is an operations plan in concept only. This means that the general American courses of action were identified but the plan itself was only kept in abbreviated form, lacking either the assignment of forces or much of the details of logistics and transport needed for implementation. In August 2001, "Change 1" to the previous CONPLAN 5077 upgraded the contingency to a full OPLAN, with assigned forces and more detailed annexes and appendices.

Taiwanese-independence advocates accused former president Ma Ying-jeou of breaking national security laws and called on the judiciary to investigate after his statement that “China will wage a battle, which will be quick and will be the last battle for Taiwan.” Ma showed his true colors “as a mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party” in his speech on Monday when he said the “first battle will be the last,” Taiwan Republic Office director Chilly Chen said. “Ma is threatening Taiwanese by claiming that Beijing will launch a quick invasion of Taiwan, but that the US military will have no time and no chance to come to Taiwan’s aid,” Chen said.

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