An old American political adage has it that “where you stand depends on where you sit.” Europe, after World War II, was far from Taiwan, China, and Japan, and lacked the military involvement in Asia that the United States had. America, after leading the coalition that defeated the aggression of Hirohito’s Imperial Japan, democratized Japan and kept military bases in Japan. It would, of course, see neighboring China/Taiwan in ways that differed from a distant Europe recovering from a devastating war. Beyond differences in economic strength, geographical distance, and military responsibilities, large global changes such as the end of the Stalin-Mao alliance, Mao’s détente with Nixon, the economic rise of East Asia, the enrichment of petroleum exporters, and the rise of China as a great power would reshape Europe’s understanding of its interests on Taiwan/China relations in ways that reflected both particulars unique to Europe and also general tendencies of virtually all the industrialized democracies. In sum, European attitudes toward China’s claim to Taiwan would at times, but not always, be Japan’s or America’s.
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