William F. Buckley

There are two views of Communist China not entirely inconsistent. The first, and most popular, is that the term "Communist," vis-a-vis modern China, is as accurate as "Democratic Republic" was to describe East Germany during the Cold War. No one questions that there are Marxist theologians in the hierarchy and monks in the civil ranks and in the military. But it is practically nowhere supposed that the old Communist afflatus governs important elements of Chinese policy. China is not now a major imperialist threat to Southeast Asia, let alone a challenger to Japan or Russia.

But the question of Taiwan transcends ideological rigidities. The Communist Chinese are unswervable in their determination to reacquire Taiwan. It was not very long ago that China actually threatened military operations. And there is no doubting that but for the United States, these would have eventuated. The U.S. 7th Fleet has served as a cordon sanitaire, but it isn't only the naval arm that has kept Taiwan safe. It is actually written into U.S. policy that we will guarantee the freedom of Taiwan, so that the entire apparatus of U.S. might is committed to denying China a bloody re-annexation of its lusty and prosperous former province.

In military terms, what the Chinese have established is that they intend to develop weaponry which would deny to the United States automatic dominance in space -- with all that that would imply in a contest over the fate of Taiwan.

The United States is still far ahead of China. But the big guy on the block has lost an important advantage.

William F. Buckley

William F. Buckley, Jr. is editor-at-large of National Review, the prolific author of Miles Gone By: A Literary Autobiography.

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