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Problem of Formosa

February 16, 1955

Report Outline
Dimensions of Conflict Over Formosa
Strategic, Political, Legal Aspects of Problem
Search for Interim and Final Solutions
Special Focus

Dimensions of Conflict Over Formosa

The Formosa Controversy, simmering since the Chinese Communists drove the Nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek from the China mainland more than five years ago, rose to crisis proportions in mid-January when Red forces stepped up air and artillery attacks against Nationalist-held offshore islands. Although sporadic harassment of the sort had been going on for several months, threats of the Peiping regime to “liberate” Formosa were assuming new force and substance. The United States, on record against any Red invasion of Formosa since the start of the Korean war, responded by reiterating its firm intention to oppose by force any Communist assault from the mainland.

Peiping's sharp rebuff of United Nations efforts to arrange a cease-fire added to the growing tension and to fears of a general war. To the Chinese Communists the United States was aggressively intervening in what was “entirely a matter of China's internal affairs.” But in placing the question before the U.N. Security Council, the New Zealand representative had made plain the international character of the conflict. “There are here involved,” Sir Leslie Knox Munro said, “two governing authorities, each claiming the same territory, each disposing of powerful forces, and each in alliance with one of the most powerful countries in the world.”

American Stand on Defense of Pacific Islands

President Eisenhower gave warning in a special message to Congress on Jan. 24 that a situation was developing in the Formosa Strait that seriously imperiled world peace and American security. “Communist China,” the President explained, “has pursued a series of provocative political and military actions, establishing a pattern of aggressive purpose. That purpose, they proclaim, is the conquest of Formosa.” Eisenhower emphasized that it was “important that these islands [Formosa and the Pescadores] should remain in friendly hands.” In unfriendly hands they would create “a breach in the island chain of the Western Pacific that constitutes for the United States and for other free nations the geographical backbone of their security structure in that ocean.”

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