By Patrick Tyler
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Hailed as ''absorbing'' via the hot York occasions and ''suspense-filled'' by means of international Affairs, Patrick Tyler's a very good Wall turned an immediate vintage; a must-read for a person occupied with the advanced and combative dating among the world's greatest and the world's strongest countries. And not anyone may perhaps inform this tale higher than Patrick Tyler, veteran journalist and previous Beijing bureau leader of the recent York instances.
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This page intentionally left blank • -mmmw ••immmmmmmm: ^ •CMIMWHUWII . Chinese warplanes during exercises near Taiwan This page intentionally left blank unlikely war zone. Descending dirough white puffs of cloud towing their shadows across the western Pacific, the first thing one notices on the air approach to Taiwan is that the island is dominated by a central mountain range resembling the great hulk of a whale. It's as if, at the beginning of time, some mid-Cambrian squalus had lolled ashore for a nap on the leaf-shaped platform that rises out of the sea, there to expire under die luscious subtropical sun, then to rot, petrify, and, in die by-and-by of prehistory, crumble and erode.
Few Americans understand the danger of war and die inescapable reality that America would enter such a war, which could devastate the Chinese coastline, trigger an exodus from Taiwan and send a large portion of its population fleeing to the United States. And it would wreck die Asian economies, already reeling from capital flight and a major economic contraction that began in 1997. The risk of war was startlingly apparent in the Taiwan crisis of T996, where this book will begin. That crisis of dangerous ballistic missile firings and American naval deployments brought the United States closer to military confrontation widi mainland China than at any time since the Eisen*The Taiwan Relations Act of 1979 states, "It is the policy of the United States .
But when he failed, President Harry Truman washed his hands of die matter and witlidrew. In January 1949, Mao's forces marched tlirough die gates of old Beijing, and on October 1, Mao and his military commanders climbed to die balcony of the Gate of Heavenly Peace, which guards the entrance to die Forbidden City and overlooks Tiananmen Square, and declared the founding of the People's Republic of China. At that moment, Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist forces were in flight across the Taiwan Strait, and once landed on the island, they set up temporary quarters in squalid tent cities and began plotting a military strategy to return to the mainland.