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1954: US pledges to defend Nationalist China

US President Dwight D Eisenhower has announced the signing of a pact of mutual security with the Nationalist Chinese Government.

Secretary of State John Foster Dulles concluded the agreement with Chinese foreign minister George Yeh for the defence of the islands of Formosa (Taiwan) and Pescadores.

At a news conference, Mr Dulles made it clear that any attack on the two islands from the mainland would result in a "state of war" with the Chinese Communists.

He was asked whether the US would retaliate if Formosa was attacked.

Mr Dulles replied: "That would be a probable result. There must be a certain liberty for mobile forces to retaliate at places of their own choosing, though, this would not necessarily mean general war and the use of atomic bombs."

Negotiations for the defence pact between the US and head of the Nationalist Chinese Government, Chiang Kai-Shek, have been in progress for many months but there was no indication that the agreement would be completed so quickly.

The secretary of state's formal announcement declared that the pact would follow the pattern of other security treaties concluded by the US in the Pacific area.

This pact, the statement added, would forge another link in the system of collective security, and provide the essential framework for the defence of the Western Pacific against communist aggression.

The agreement comes as 11 American soldiers and two civilians remain imprisoned in China.

The Americans were captured and detained for alleged espionage last month after their planes were shot down over a recognised combat zone of Korea.

President Eisenhower condemned their imprisonment as "completely indefensible" and warned that Chinese ports would be blockaded if they were not released.

In Context
The Nationalist Government, under the leadership of Chiang Kai-Shek, fled from mainland China in 1949 to Taiwan (formerly Formosa), after the Chinese Communists defeated the Chinese Nationalists in a long civil war and established the People's Republic of China.

With the help of American aid in the form of the mutual security pact in 1954, he succeeded in setting Taiwan on the road to economic development over the next 20 years .

The 11 US soldiers and two civilians that were imprisoned for alleged espionage were released on 1 August 1955 and China agreed to negotiate over Taiwan.

Chiang died in 1975 and the US broke diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1979 to establish full relations with the People's Republic.

Taiwan has made great economic progress over the years and is now one of the wealthiest and most industrialised nations in Asia.


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