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THURSDAY, MARCH 10, 2005
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EDITORIAL

America should heed warning shot by China

China delivered a warning shot over the United States ship of state. Now is the time for this nation to determine whether Taiwan is important enough for war.

Since 1949, when communists rudely evicted nationalists from the mainland, Taiwan's claims of independence have been a sore spot for China.

China has never wavered on its insistence that the island is part of the Chinese motherland.

The United States has treaty obligations regarding the defense of the island, but it also has tremendous leverage to keep the Taiwan government from deliberately antagonizing its neighbor.

Taiwan's president has stoked the coals of conflict by insisting on a Taiwanese referendum that would likely declare independence from China. Frequent anti-China demonstrations are also a thorn in China's side.

The issue has renewed urgency because of China's passage of "One China" legislation that could authorize an attack on Taiwan. Chinese officials simultaneously warned the United States and Japan that it would not tolerate meddling in what it considers an internal matter between it and one of its provinces.

The timing of Beijing's announcements are particularly frightening, coming at a time when U.S. forces are stretched to the breaking point. What all this means is that military action against Taiwan is possible and maybe imminent. Our role in such a conflict should be determined before China makes a move.

Are we willing to have a nuclear war with the world's second superpower? Are we willing to reinstate the draft so our efforts to assist Taiwan have a chance of success?

There is no excuse for the United States to lack a game plan in the event of an invasion. Now is the time to formulate a policy and, if it is less than needed by Taiwan, alert Taiwan to that fact.

Treaty or no treaty, the possibility of a catastrophic war with China cannot be made hastily. Now is the time to re-evaluate our relationship with Taiwan.

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