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TUESDAY, JULY 5, 2005
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EDITORIAL

U.S. needs to evaluate commitment to Taiwan

A missile test in China last month sent a clear warning that U.S. officials need to quickly and definitively review our relationship with Taiwan.

China successfully tested a JL-2 missile, which has a longer range than any other weapon in China's arsenal and is accurate to 6,000 miles.

The distance between Shanghai and Seattle is 5,721 miles. A missile traveling from Shanghai to Los Angeles would travel 6,257 miles.

And China, of course, has advanced nuclear warheads and missile-ready submarines.

China and the United States bicker about trade issues, but the only serious rift between the nations involves Taiwan. In 1950, the United States injected itself into the China-Taiwan hostilities in the hopes Taiwan could serve as a buffer to prevent the spread of communism in Asia. China has considered Taiwan a province since 1949.

We have already sold fighter jets and weapons to Taiwan. China has 500 missiles targeting the island. It recently added to its supply of military amphibious vehicles.

In March, China adopted and publicized a "One China" law that could authorize an attack on Taiwan.

The American public is struggling to understand the necessity of our war in Iraq. If we were to react militarily to a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, our losses would be far greater and our gains more remote.

Public ambivalence on the issue of whether we would protect Taiwan from attack is not a bad thing. The Bush administration should have a clear understanding on how we would react to such an invasion, however, and have communicated that policy to Taiwan.

Compared to a war with China, Iraq is a stroll through the park.

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