For those who are concerned that democratic Taiwan should continue to have the freedom to choose its own future, President Barack Obama’s coming visit to Beijing brings back the memory of a regrettable episode during President Bill Clinton’s visit to China in June 1998.

Early in the spring of that year there were signs that the American government would assure China that the United States would not defend Taiwan if it declared independence. On March 13, Joseph Nye proposed in a Washington Post op-ed the elimination of ambiguity in the American position by stating that the U.S. would not recognize or defend Taiwan, if it were to declare independence.

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