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Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty

sino-american mutual defense treaty
The Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty, formally Mutual Defense Treaty between the United States of America and the Republic of China, essentially prevented the People's Republic of China from taking over the island of Taiwan during 1955–1979

Some of its content was carried over to the Taiwan Relations Act


  • 1 Background
  • 2 Obligations and impact
  • 3 Termination
  • 4 Taiwan Relations Act
  • 5 See also
  • 6 References
  • 7 External links


In the context of Cold War and the confrontation between capitalism and communism worldwide, the Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty between the United States of America and the Republic of China secured the island of Taiwan from invasion by the People's Republic of China in the aftermath of the Chinese Civil War on mainland China

Rather than taking a multilateral approach to their alliances and treaties in East Asia, as had been done in Europe with NATO, the US decided on a bilateral approach with its Asian allies Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, known as the San Francisco System or hubs-and-spokes system Because the politics in Asia ranged from democratic to authoritarian, it would be difficult to find common value base for multilateral relations Furthermore, the countries in Asia did not all face one common threat, like the West did with the Soviet Union It was therefore considered more beneficial to pursue bilateral relations1

The treaty was signed on December 2, 1954 in Washington, DC2 and came into force on March 3, 19553

The treaty prolonged and assisted the Republic of China in maintaining legitimacy as the sole government of the whole of mainland China until the early 1970s During the Cold War, the treaty also helped US policy makers to shape the policy of containment in East Asia together with South Korea and Japan against the spread of Communism

Obligations and impactedit

The Badge of the United States Taiwan Defense Command USTDC, 1955-1979

The treaty consists of ten main articles The content of the treaty included the provision that if one country came under attack, the other would aid and provide military support

The treaty was limited in application to the defense of the island of Taiwan and the Pescadores only Kinmen and Matsu were not protected by this treaty Therefore, the US stood aside during the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis The treaty also discouraged the Republic of China from initiating any military action against mainland China, since only Taiwan and Pescadores were included and unilateral military actions not supported

From the viewpoint of US Senate, in conjunction with the ratification of the MDT, a report issued Feb 8, 1955 by the US Senate's Committee on Foreign Relations specified: "It is the view of the committee that the coming into force of the present treaty will not modify or affect the existing legal status of Formosa and the Pescadores"

To avoid any possibility of misunderstanding on this aspect of the treaty, the committee decided it would be useful to include in this report the following statement:

It is the understanding of the Senate that nothing in the treaty shall be construed as affecting or modifying the legal status or sovereignty of the territories to which it applies4


Article 10 of the treaty provided that either Party could terminate it one year after notice had been given to the other Party Accordingly, the treaty came to an end on 1 January 1980, one year after the United States established diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China on 1 January 1979

The right for President Jimmy Carter to unilaterally annul a treaty, in this case the Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty, was the topic of the Supreme Court case Goldwater v Carter in which the court declined to rule on the legality of this action, given the political nature rather than judicial nature of the case, thereby allowing it to proceed

Taiwan Relations Actedit

Shortly after the United States' recognition of the People's Republic, the US Congress passed the Taiwan Relations Act Some of the Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty's content, for example the definition of "Taiwan", survives in the Act It however falls short of promising Taiwan direct military assistance in case of an invasion5

See alsoedit

  • Battle of Kuningtou
  • Political Status of Taiwan


  1. ^ Cha, Victor 2010 "Powerplay: Origins of the US Alliance in Asia" International Security 34 3 Winter 2009/10: 161-162  |first2= missing |last2= in Authors list help
  2. ^ United States Department of State Historical Office Congress Senate Committee on Foreign Relations 1957, American foreign policy 1950–1955 basic documents, Washington: US Govt Print Off, p 945, OCLC 575035791, DONE in duplicate, in the English and Chinese languages, at Washington on this second day of December of the Year One Thousand Nine Hundred and Fifty-four, corresponding to the second day of the twelfth month of the Forty-third year of the Republic of China 
  3. ^ CHINA
  4. ^ Appendix 17—Report on Mutual Defense Treaty with the Republic of China, US Senate, Committee on Foreign Relations 1955 1
  5. ^ American Institute in Taiwan – Taiwan Relations Act

External linksedit

  • Mutual Defense Treaty Between the United States and the Republic of China; December 2, 1954

sino-american mutual defense treaty

Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty Information about

Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty

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