LVWAC USA-China Military Relations

Politics, Science Strikes Back | | June 1, 2007 at 08:20

chinese-flag.jpg By guest contributor Dr. Jesper Nielsen

Last night Ben Duchek, the force behind the Las Vegas World Affairs Council (LVWAC), put together another powerful program to support his vision of connecting Las Vegans interested in foreign affairs with knowledgeable speakers and creating a forum of vibrant and relevant dialogue. The guest commentator was Dr. Phillip C. Saunders, a Senior Research Fellow at the National Defense University Institute for National Strategic Studies, speaking and answering questions about US-China relations, especially military, and the Far East Theater.

Dr. Saunders effortlessly gave a brilliant overview of current US-China relations without referring to notes. The review was thoughtful and penetrating, illuminating the thought process of Chinese and US officials on everything from trade to cultural exchange with special emphasis on the problem of Taiwan. A provocative question and answer period followed his informal talk. There was a sizeable contingent from Nellis Air Force Base in attendance who posed thoughtful questions revealing an impressive knowledge of Chinese military history, weapons systems and thinking.


While there are many areas of cooperation between China and the US such as trade, education and cultural exchange, and to some extent North Korea, there is sharp division in the military realm with focus on Taiwan. It is a dangerous balancing act with China consistently asserting its territorial claim on the island democracy and the US in staunt support of its independence.

taiwan1.jpgTaiwan itself is an unpredictable factor in the standoff. The Chinese nationalists, who invaded the island in 1949 after defeat by Mao on the mainland, have ruled the island for decades. As they maintain that they are the rightful heirs of China, their position has been that Taiwan is part of China and have not pushed for a declaration of independence.

But the native Taiwanese have slowly taken their place in the government and military and are more supportive of independence, even though polls indicate that 80% of the population favors the status quo. That position probably stems not from their lack of desire of an island once and for all free of China, but more from prudence that open confrontation with China would be bad for business and possibly lead to war. Oddly, the people continue to elect presidents who represent the minority "independence" view.

So what would the US actually do if the Taiwanese government provokes China and declares independence? President Bush has stated we will defend the island. What would the Chinese actually do? Would China risk their incredible economic growth to annex the island militarily? For more in depth analysis see the Institute for National Strategic Studies website

We met at the new Little Macau Ultra Tavern at 3939 Spring Mountain Rd in a comfortable side room with cozy sofas and warm red carpet. A full cash bar was accompanied by a delightful and tasty buffet of Chinese delicacies. Ben is king of finding just the right spots to host the LVWAC gatherings, just as he is king of finding just the right speakers to satisfy the needs of Las Vegans hungry for more face-to-face exposure to international culture and politics. To find out more about LVWAC visit


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