During a ceremony last Thursday in Beijing marking 28 years of U.S.-China relations former US President Jimmy Carter gave details about his two years of negotiations with Chinese officials to normalize relations in 1979. He said China's acceptance of Washington's continued defensive weapons sales to Taiwan was key to the U.S. dropping of diplomatic relations with Taipei in favor of Beijing (h/t China Confidential).
Mr. Carter said the U.S. was determined to maintain economic relations with Taiwan and also to provide defensive weapons to the self-ruled island, which China claims as its own. He said the U.S. agreement to drop diplomatic recognition of Taiwan for China was conditional on Beijing's acceptance that the U.S. would continue to offer defense to its long-time ally in Taipei.
"We finally reached the agreement that the United States would make public our statement, which many Chinese still don't like, that we have an obligation to help preserve the safety of the Chinese who live on Taiwan and that we would provide them with defensive weapons only, a pledge I honored, but that we knew that the Chinese would not agree with this publicly but that they would accept it privately," Mr. Carter recalled.
Beijing continues to scold Washington for its occasional weapons sales to Taiwan.
China's Foreign Ministry recently hinted the weapons sales might be one reason for Beijing's refusal to allow a scheduled Thanksgiving visit to Hong Kong by a U.S. aircraft carrier group. The last-minute cancellation upset thousands of sailors and their family members who had flown into Hong Kong for the holiday, and sent a chill over U.S.-China military relations.
Foreign Policy in Focus features an excellent series of essays debating each side of the various Taiwan issues. It gives the following summary of the essays: "Ian Williams argues that the United States should not abandon Taiwan in its time of need in his essay Support Taiwan's Democracy. Yu Bin disagrees in America's Rogue Ally: Taiwan's uncompromising push for independence is destabilizing the region. Ian Williams responds by emphasizing Taiwan's Right to a State. Yu Bin's answer: Making Democracy Safe for the World."
Although I present you with information about both sides of the debate, I am a staunch supporter of independence and recognized statehood for Taiwan. Sadly, China is hellbent on invading Taiwan, and it will surely happen if the US withdraws its support. If you know someone that doesn't know about Taiwan, inform them of the issues. Tell them to be concerned about the issue before China invades. Tell them to put a "Keep Taiwan Free" bumper sticker next to their "Free Tibet" sticker.