Air University Review, September-October 1981

The Chinese Communist
Air Force In the "Punitive" War Against Vietnam

Rear Admiral James B. Linder, USN (Ret)
Dr. A. James Gregor

Ever since the mid-’50s the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has been the object of professional interest and concern.1 By the end of that decade, the PLAAF was considered a substantial asset in the defense forces of Mainland China. At that time it was the third largest air force in the world, numerically inferior only to those of the United States and the Soviet Union. Nonetheless, during the Korean War the MiG-15s (identified in Chinese Communist nomenclature as Shenyang F-2s) and the "volunteer" pilots of the PLAAF proved no match for their United Nations’ opponents. The F-86 Sabre pilots of the United States Air Force achieved a 10:1 kill ratio over their PLAAF adversaries.2 The inexperience and lack of rigorous combat training of Chinese Communist airmen, as well as technical deficiencies of their aircraft (primarily the absence of an effective radar gunsight that had by that time become a basic component of American air units), cost the PLAAF serious personnel and aircraft losses.3

As the 1950s drew to a close, the PLAAF—by that time equipped with MiG-17s (F-4s)---engaged the aircraft of the Nationalist Chinese air force over the Taiwan Strait in a contest for control of the airspace over the offshore islands of Kinmen and Ma-tsu. In the course of that conflict, between July and October 1958, thirty-one aircraft of the PLAAF fell before the guns of the Nationalist Chinese pilots. The Air Command of the Republic of China (ROCAC) on Taiwan reported the loss of two fighter planes during the same engagements.4 Suffering a loss-ratio of 15.5:1 to the Nationalist Chinese, the PLAAF broke off these engagements. Once again it was the superior training of their opponents’ crews as well as the advanced aircraft systems of the Nationalist air force that proved so costly to the PLAAF.

Since that time the PLAAF has had little occasion to be tested in combat. Although PLAAF air units from Hainan afforded air cover for the Chinese Communist assault on the Paracel Islands in January 1974, the lack of South Vietnamese air opposition precluded any opportunity for combat testing of either the men or machines of the Mainland air force.

During the past two decades, considerable evidence has been amassed which suggest there have been attempts to improve the technical capabilities of PLAAF aircraft, but it is equally clear that by the mid-’60s the military leadership of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) had decided on an air defense strategy that involved investment in a large force of relatively cheap and technologically unsophisticated aircraft. Given the financial and technology constraints confronting the aircraft industry of Mainland China, aircraft production was concentrated on the MiG-17 (F-4 and F-5) and the MiG-19 (F-6). It is estimated that by the late ‘70s, the inventory of the PLAAF included about four thousand of these fighter-interceptors.5

Numerically, the MiG-9s (in at least three variants) constitute the most important components of the contemporary Mainland air service. The aircraft design and technology of these craft date from the ‘50s; yet, the MiG-19 is still an efficient gun platform packing three NR-30 30 mm cannon, which are superior to their British and French counterparts. However, the performance of its Soviet-designed Izumrud radar leaves the aircraft with only limited all-weather capabilities and impairs its effectiveness.

Genuine air-to-air attack radar systems have been standard on fighters in the Soviet and United States air forces for a quarter of a century, and their absence from fighters that serve as the mainstay of the Communist Chinese fighter command constitutes a major combat impairment. During the late ‘60s, an apparent attempt was made to improve their combat readiness by making major modifications to the MiG-19 and produce a variant known as the F-9 (actually the F-6bis). The F-6bis aircraft has a new forward fuselage section that adds approximately two feet to overall aircraft length, displacing the standard nose inlet of the MiG-19 to two fixed geometry plain air inlets at the wing roots. This long conical nose was apparently designed to house a radar system that would afford effective air-to-surface and air-to-air attack capabilities. However, the clearest most recent photographs of this aircraft do not reveal a corresponding radar installation, though there is evidence that some combat craft are equipped with hardpoints for mounting paired Russian design Atoll air-to-air missiles.

It is not certain how many of these aircraft are presently in service with the PLAAF nor how effective they may be in a specific combat role, but some are clearly configured for surface attack and ground support roles and designated the A-5 by the Chinese. Probably no more than three hundred are currently in service, and it has been widely reported that production of this aircraft has ceased for a variety of reasons—among the most important being the fact that the longer frontal fuselage and extra weight have critically penalized performance in comparison with the basic MiG-19. It is obvious that a short production run would indicate serious manufacturing difficulties.6

The only aircraft presently on line with the PLAAF that could qualify as modern is the Chinese version of the Russian-designed MiG-21F (identified as the Shenyang F-7 and F-8). These aircraft have suffered numerous design problems, and production may have ceased with about 80 aircraft in current service. Given the probable design deficiencies, their combat effectiveness is also questionable.

By the time Beijing decided to undertake its "self-defense counterattack" into the territory of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV) on 17 February 1979, there were increasing doubts about the combat readiness and effectiveness of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force. Because of the presence of MiG-21s in the air force of the SRV (in addition to the Northrop F-5Es in service with the smaller air forces of the Southeast Asian region), much interest was generated about the roles and missions of the air combat units of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and how effective they might be against modern aircraft in any engagements in that area.

For a number of tactical and strategic reasons7 the Communist Chinese scheduled their "punitive" war against the SRV for mid-February. The plan was to embark on a short campaign, administer punishment quickly, and withdraw by the beginning of April, when the commencement of the rainy season in the region would make operations extremely difficult for a military system already beset with special logistical problems.

Having negotiated normalization with the United States in December 1978, the Chinese Communists apparently felt themselves armed with tacit American approval for their adventure in Southeast Asia. Troop deployments in strength began in January 1979. At the same time the Chinese Communist air command deployed 444 aircraft along the Vietnamese border skirting a perimeter around a 250-mile radius from Hanoi. Most of the aircraft deployed were MiG-19s, followed by a significantly smaller number of the older MiG-17s, a scattering of I1-28s (Chinese Communist designation B-5s), a few ground attack variants of the F-6bis (A-5), and 28 MiG-21s (F-7s).

The I1-28 (B-5) is a light bomber patterned on a Soviet model of the late ‘50s and fabricated in the PRC. It is a twin, jet-powered tactical bomber provided to the Chinese Communists by the Soviets to replace the piston-driven Tupolev Tu-2 that had been in service with the PLAAF until that time. The I1-28 now constitutes the main tactical strike force available to the Chinese Communist air force. It is capable of carrying a 6000-pound bomb load and has some all-weather properties, but it can undertake precision strikes only in fair weather, given its primitive avionics suite. Its size and configuration preclude low-level maneuvering and leave it exposed to medium- and low-range surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) as well as radar-sighted-and-directed antiaircraft batteries.

The effectiveness of the ground attack and troop support aircraft of the PLAAF— the modified MiG-19 (the F-6bis and A-5) and the Il-28---left much to be desired. Among the 948 aircraft deployed along the Sino-Vietnamese border at the height of the campaign, 94 were Il-28s and 120 were F-6bis and A-5s. There were 27 Il-28s stationed at Haikou on Hainan Island, 30 in Guilin, 12 near Suixi, and 13 more in Luichou—all in Kwangsi Province. Twelve more were stationed near Mengtzu in Yunnan Province, bringing the total number of tactical bombers available as ground support and strike aircraft to 94, with 12 modified for reconnaissance roles.8 The F-6bis aircraft were stationed northeast of Mengzi and at Wuxu in Kwangsi. The remaining air units on station included 580 MiG-19s, 98 MiG-17s, 28 MiG-21 fighter-interceptor aircraft, and 24 medium-range Tu-16 bombers stationed at Guilin.

The mechanical properties of all the aircraft available to the military planners of the PLA are reasonably well known. Both the I1-28 and F-6bis have severely restricted troop support and ground attack capabilities in any reasonably sophisticated antiaircraft environment. Yet, the conflict in Vietnam took place in just such an environment. The Vietnamese enjoyed effective battlefield air defense systems of Soviet derivation, including the SA-3 Goa, SA-6 Gainful, and SA-7 Grail SAMs supplemented by ZU-33, ZSU-23-4, and ZSU-57-2 antiaircraft weapons. A similar battlefield air defense system exacted terrific toll among the Israeli air support and tactical attack aircraft during the Yom Kippur War in the Middle East.9 Under these circumstances the Chinese Communist air command had every reason not to want to commit its aircraft to battle during this conflict. However, the decision to restrict the role of the PLAAF in the "punitive" war against Vietnam may have also been influenced by political considerations, in addition to the known equipment: deficiencies which were to decide the issue. It is reasonably certain that pilots and crews of the PLAAF were not sufficiently well trained to carry out the complex procedures associated with tactical air support.10

During the American involvement in the Vietnam War, our own highly sophisticated air units of the United States Air Force suffered appreciable losses in men and materiel to the antiaircraft defenses of North Vietnam. The Chinese Communist air command could have anticipated even heavier losses because of a dependency on obsolescent aircraft with questionable combat capabilities operating in a heavy threat environment.

According to military intelligence reports from non-Communist sources, no I1-28 was committed to overflights of Vietnamese territory during the entire campaign against the SRV. However, a few stationed at Suixi flew over the Gulf of Tonkin along the Kwangsi coast, and some ventured into Vietnamese airspace. Similarly, some I1-28 flights were made from Haikou on Hainan over the Gulf, but none penetrated as far as the territorial waters outside Haiphong. Thus the light bomber forces of the PLAAF remained well out of reach of SRV defense systems, and aircraft interceptors provided virtually no support for either ground or naval forces involved in operations against the enemy.

Some A-5 ground support aircraft did penetrate SRV airspace near Lang Son. Based in Wuxu, these aircraft appeared over the battlefield but undertook no actions against the enemy. Only during the heavy fighting which characterized the last days of the conflict between 27 February and 5 March 1979 did the F-6bis and A-5 aircraft make a brief appearance near Lang Son, but none fired a shot in anger.

Most of the Chinese Communist aircraft that penetrated SRV airspace were MiG-17s (F-5s) and MiG-19s (F-6s). During the conflict there were approximately 5500 aircraft sorties with 660 penetrations of the northern Vietnam border to provide at least the semblance of air cover at major combat sites.

Most of the sorties that found Chinese Communist aircraft over SRV territory were localized in two principal areas. The first centered around Lao Cai, where eight infantry divisions (the 42d, l4th, 3lst, 32d, 11th,37th, 39th, and 13th) of the PLA engaged the ground forces of the SRV; the other major locale of PLAAF activity centered around Lang Son and south and east of Caobang. MiGs from Tianyang and Wuxu followed the border on regular overflights above eleven infantry divisions (the 55th, 164th, 43rd, 28th, 127th, 126th, 42d, 125th, 54th, 121st, and 41st) of the PLA that were engaging enemy ground forces with conventional artillery, tank, and infantry attacks.

None of these MiG flights afforded any real air support to the ground forces or incurred any air opposition. Instead, the defense against SRV air attack was provided by a screen of SA-2 Guideline SAMs of early Soviet design. The PLA apparently depended on this system of ground-to-air missiles rather than the interceptor air units to protect its ground forces against air attack. The PLA used the only operational missile air defense system available to afford protection that could not be provided by the aircraft units of the PLAAF. The slant range of the SA-2 is about 50 kilometers, and it is notable that Chinese Communist ground forces were instructed to advance not more than 50 kilometers into SRV territory.11

In effect, the activities of the PLAAF in the Chinese Communist "punitive" war against the SRV were largely cosmetic. They provided the Chinese Communist military authorities the opportunity to photograph the Chinese-built MiG-21 in flight and release photographs of the air-to-air Atoll missile apparently featured on some aircraft in the war zone.

Such propaganda opportunities may have been purchased by significant manpower losses on the part of the ground troops of the PLA. Without effective air support the troops of the PLA suffered heavy casualties, estimated to be from 20,000 to 40,000 men. At one time during the campaign there may have been as many as 250,000 PLA troops (about 21 infantry divisions from 8 army corps—the 41st, 54th, 42d, 43rd, and 55th of the Kwangsi Command, as well as the 11th, 14th, and 13th of the Yunnan Command) engaged in the fighting. Without air support to suppress enemy fire and neutralize strongpoints, the ground forces of the PLA were compelled to absorb the full impact of the enemy’s firepower. Chinese Communist ground control apparently ordered the air units of the PLAAF not to engage any enemy aircraft (generally the technologically sophisticated MiG-21s and possibly the MiG-23 of the air force of the SRV) or attack ground positions which were defended by tough SAM defense systems supporting the Vietnamese army.12 There is more than a suggestion that the Chinese Communist command had little confidence in the effectiveness of the air-to-air ordnance available to PLAAF combat pilots, so rather than lose expensive major military equipment and trained pilots (in very short supply from the lapse in pilot training that occurred during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution) the aircraft of the Chinese Communist air force were just not committed to combat.

The decision not to commit Chinese Communist air units to air combat or troop support was a consequence of something other than a disposition to confine the conflict. That decision was the consequence of a clear recognition of the inferiority of PLAAF air combat and ground support equipment in addition to the political constraints and general strategic concerns of the PRC. The MiG-17s/19s/21s of the PLAAF would have been at critical risk in any engagements with the air units of the SRV. The bombing and attack aircraft of the PLAAF, the Il-28s and the F-6bis, would have been at similar risk in the air defense environment created by the SAMs and interceptor capabilities of the SRV. Any significant losses in major air combat and ground support craft which might have resulted would have revealed major weaknesses within the PLAAF, so the Chinese Communist military command apparently opted not to disclose these deficiencies.

All this has implications for any future role the Chinese Communist military might be expected to play while undertaking or contemplating forceful actions along its southern and eastern periphery. While the defensive capabilities of the numerically large PLAAF are generally recognized, it is equally evident that relatively small air forces in the region, when supported by reasonably sophisticated air defense systems, are not at the present time threatened by the air force of the PRC. So, given its present capabilities, the PLAAF cannot be expected to influence any military operations in Southeast Asia to a significant degree. For example, should the PRC choose to oppose a military attack by the SRV on Thailand, only the intervention of the ground forces of the PRC could be expected to make a telling impact. It is likely that assistance to Thailand in the event of determined SRV attack could only come in the form of major troop involvement rather than supplying military hardware (already in short supply in the PRC) or providing tactical air support. PRC air units alone would probably be singularly ineffective. Given its present inventory, the Chinese Communist air force is likely to be at grave risk in any attack role in a sophisticated air defense environment, whether Western- or Soviet-equipped. Against the nations of Southeast Asia or the Pacific littoral, the PLAAF can perform satisfactory defense functions but could hardly be an effective instrument for any offensive actions. It is evident that against the small nations of the Southeast Asian region, as well as the Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan and Japan, the Chinese Communist air force at the moment can make little pretense of effective offensive capabi1ity.13

Against the modern aircraft of the SRV, the air units of the PLAAF are thought to be largely ineffective. Even against the few advanced Mach 2 fighters of the Self-Defense Forces of Japan, the Chinese Communist air units would have to suffer serious attrition before they could prevail. Similarly, against the F-5Es on Taiwan, PLAAF units would suffer grievous losses before the depletion of ordnance, and aircraft attrition would eventually neutralize the air command of the ROC.

The PLAAF can hardly serve even in a defensive capacity on its northern and western borders. Its aircraft are hopelessly outclassed by the more than 2000 advanced machines of the Soviet Air Command deployed along the Sino-Soviet border. Given its current capabilities, it is quite unlikely that the PLAAF will constitute anything more than a modest obstruction to any major military moves by the Soviet Union. Moreover, for the foreseeable future, it would hardly be possible to modernize the air arm of the PLA sufficiently to make it an effective anti-Soviet fighting force. The shortage of foreign exchange precludes large-scale purchase of up-to-date aircraft and equipment by the PRC. No nation is prepared to allow the PRC the billions in grants or credits required to upgrade its air force to the level of an effective anti-Soviet instrument. The absence of effective research and development similarly precludes the real possibility of indigenous design and construction of modern interceptor and bombing aircraft for the foreseeable future. The Chinese Communist aircraft industry has the capability of design and production of relatively simple machines (such as the Yun-11 utility aircraft) that do not involve advanced avionics or high-thrust engines.14 Any of the advanced military aircraft so necessary to upgrade the PLAAF would have to be purchased from the Soviet Union or the industrialized Western nations, or coproduced under license. It is unlikely that Communist China will be in a position to do either in sufficient measure in time, quantity, or quality to offset its present air power deficiencies. In its competition for limited resources, the PLAAF will probably enjoy limited expansion and technological upgrading with the addition of some substantial numbers of a Chinese Communist variant of the MiG-23 Flogger (designated the Shenyang F-12 in Chinese Communist nomenclature),15 but it is most unlikely that such enhancements will not markedly improve the defensive capabilities of its air arm.

In Chinese Central Asia the arid, open terrain will continue to afford the Soviet Air Force maximum advantage for the foreseeable future.16 To alter the force levels of the PLAAF sufficiently to offset this advantage—other than to provide dense antiaircraft cover—would require funds, the availability of large numbers of trained personnel, and logistic capabilities far beyond the current purchasing, production, and training capacity displayed by the PRC.

Any marginal upgrading of force levels of the air arm of the PLA on the other hand would succeed in altering the regional balance of forces in the Taiwan Strait and Southeast Asia—circumstances clearly not in the interests of the United States. Any military adventures by the PRC in those regions could destabilize the strategic circumstances in much of the Pacific basin. The United States has conveyed its concern with respect to regional stability in the area in a number of ways but most unequivocably with respect to the peace and security of the Taiwan Strait. The government of the United States has embodied its commitment to the stability of the Taiwan Strait region and the peace and security of the Republic of China in Public Law 96-8, the Taiwan Relations Act.17 Section 2 of the act asserts that "any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means" would be considered "a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area and of grave concern to the United States. . . ." To protect its interests and offset any disposition that the PRC might entertain to resolve its differences with the ROC by military force, the United States has committed itself to the provision of "defensive arms" to Taiwan that would provide for its "sufficient self-defense capability."18

Given these commitments and the present force levels available to the PRC and the ROC respectively, what might constitute "sufficient self-defense capability for the Taiwanese military" would be a function of the capabilities available to the mainland Chinese. Any attack on the island of Taiwan by the armed forces of the PRC would necessarily involve the PLAAF. As long as the air force of the Communist Chinese is incapable of launching a successful air attack against the island of Taiwan in support of a combined amphibious assault or in providing effective air cover for a surface or submarine investment of the Republic of China, the United States can meet its moral and strategic commitments in the region by maintaining the present force levels of the ROC air command.19 The small air force of the ROC (approximately 315 combat aircraft) presently enjoys some measure of qualitative superiority over the PLAAF in terms of effective air-to-air ordnance and superior firing platforms in the shape of the F-5E Tiger, which is at least marginally superior to the MiG-19s that constitute the bulk of the fighter forces of the Chinese Communist air force.

The indisposition of the PRC to commit air units to combat in the "punitive" war against Vietnam suggests that there would be a similar indisposition at present to commit any similar major military equipment to an attack on Taiwan. The fighter aircraft (however few) available to the ROC are as sophisticated as those deployed by the SRV. The air defenses on the island of Taiwan are equally sophisticated. In fact, the Hughes Air Defense Ground Environment system has been operational on Taiwan for several years. Similar to the air defense system employed by NATO forces in Europe, it would exact considerable toll from aggressor units of the PRC. Given the current force levels available on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, unless the PRC were prepared to involve much of its air force and absorb oppressive losses, it is unlikely that Mainland China would attempt a military solution of the Taiwan question at the present time.

It is in the interests of the United States that these circumstances not be altered. Any enhancement of the force levels of the PLAAF could only destabilize the military balance along the eastern and southeastern borders of the PRC without significantly affecting Communist China’s ability to resist any determined moves by the Soviet Union—given Russia’s overwhelming air superiority. It may be in the strategic interests of the United States to upgrade defensive ground force and antiaircraft capabilities of the PRC as a counterweight to the Soviet Union—thereby tying down major Soviet ground and air units—but it is not in those interests, nor has the United States the resources, to enhance significantly the capabilities of the Communist Chinese air arm. Any upgrading of the force capabilities of the PLAAF would make the nations of Southeast Asia and the littoral states more vulnerable to pressures from the PRC and introduce a dangerous level of regional instability in the entire Pacific basin.20 In fact, as the Communist Chinese enhance their air capabilities, it would be in the interests of the United States to ensure similar upgrading of the air forces of the smaller nations that border the PRC. The Taiwan Relations Act commits the United States to the provision of an adequate self-defense capability for the Republic of China in Taiwan. Since tactical air superiority over the Taiwan Strait is essential to the integrity and defense of the ROC, the implications are evident. Should the PLAAF deploy an air superiority fighter with the capabilities of the MiG-23, the United States is obliged to provide a similar aircraft to the defense forces of Taiwan and, by entailment, the defense forces of the non-Communist states of Northeast and Southeast Asia.

At the moment, the United States seems prepared to meet such an obligation. The Department of State has approved the sale of air superiority fighters to the Republic of Korea and Japan and has begun negotiations with the Republic of China on Taiwan in order to supply it with a similar air defense asset. Calculated self-interest in the regional stability of the entire theater recommends such a course, and the lessons of the Communist Chinese attack on the Socialist Republic of Vietnam support it.

Rockville, Maryland
University of California, Berkeley


The assistance and support of the Institute of International Studies, University of California at Berkeley, and of the Pacific Cultural Foundation are gratefully appreciated.

1. Cf. Ti Tsung-heng, "Ch’ao-hsien chan-ch’ang-shang ti Chung-kung k’ung-chun" [The Chinese Communist Air Force in the Korean Battlefield], Ming Pao Monthly, June 1978, pp. 20-26.

2. See Richard Bueschel, Communist Chinese Air Power (New York, 1968).

3. See the discussion concerning pilot training and machine disabilities in Fan Yuan-yen, Question and Answer: A Testimony by a Chinese Communist Pilot (Taipei, 1978), pp. 45-48.

4. Bueschel, pp. 54-55; Edwin Snyder, A. James Gregor, and Maria H. Chang, The Taiwan Relations Act and the Defense of the Republic of China (Berkeley, California: Institute of International Studies, 1980), pp. 46-47.

5. "The Military Balance: China, 1978/79," Air Force, December 1978, p. 98.

6. Bill Sweetman, "The Modernization of China’s Air Force," in The Chinese War Machine, edited by James E. Dornan, Jr., and Nigel D. Lee (New York, 1979), p. 138. For a recent discussion of the F-6bis, see "Qiang-5," Dragon (Hong Kong), April 1980, pp. 26-33.

7. See Harlan Jencks, "China’s Punitive’ War on Vietnam: A Military Assessment," Asian Survey, August 1979, pp. 804-5.

8. The data on aircraft deployments derives from a mimeographed report, "A Brief Account of the Sino-Vietnamese War," by Kuo Tung-hua for the Conference on a New Foundation for Asian and Pacific Security, Pattani, Thailand, in December 1979. The discursive "fill" embodied in the report apparently originated in Thai and Nationalist Chinese intercepts of radio communications between Chinese Communist ground control and PLAAF aircraft. This document was obtained in Taipei, Taiwan, the Republic of China in June 1980.

9. See Snyder, Gregor, and Chang, pp. 35-36, 41; Zeev Shiff, "The Israeli Airforce," Air Force, August 1976, pp. 31-41.

10. Jencks, p. 809; see also I. Kuang, "Ch’ien-shu ch’iang-chi-chi ti hung-cha fang-fa" [A Brief Account of the Attack Aircrafts’ Bombing Methods], Hsien-tai chün-shih [Conmilit: The Defense Monthly], February 1, 1980, pp. 44-46.

11. Guang Jiao Jing, Hong Kong, No. 78, March 16, 1979, p. 81.

12. In discussions with officials of the Nationalist military intelligence agencies in Taipei, James Gregor was informed that intercepted radio communications between PLAAF ground control and Chinese Communist air units during the conflict confirmed just such a contention.

13. See Sweetman, p. 142.

14. See "China Develops Yun-11 Utility Aircraft," Aviation Week and Space Technology, December 17, 1979, pp. 75-77.

15. Dornan and Lee, pp. 115-16. See the discussion in Franz J. Mogdis, "The Role of the Chinese Communist Air Force in the 1970s," in The Military and Political Power in China in the 1970’s, William W. Whitson, editor (New York, 1972), pp. 253-66.

16. See Edward N. Luttwak, "After Afghanistan, What?" Commentary, April 1980, p. 49; Harlan Jencks, The Politics of Chinese Military Development 1945-1977 (Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International, 1978), pp. 466-569.

17. For the text of the Taiwan Relations Act, see Document 35 in China and the Taiwan Issue, edited by Hungdah Chiu (New York, 1979), pp. 266-75.

18. Taiwan Relations Act, Section 3 (a).

19. See James B. Linder and A. James Gregor, "Taiwan’s Troubled Security Outlook," Strategic Review, Fall 1980.

20. See comments by Parris Chang, Taiwan: One Year after United States-China Normalization (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1980), pp. 16, 23.


Rear Admiral James Linder, USN (Ret), (USNA) was Commander of the U.S. Taiwan Defense Command during the normalization process between the People’s Republic of China and the United States in 1978 and ‘79. His previous assignments included the command of a Sixth Fleet Battle Group, Attack Carrier Commanding Officer and Director of Naval Administration. Admiral Linder is a graduate of the Naval War College and has made contributions to Strategic Review and the Institute of International Studies.

A. James Gregor (B.A., M.A., Ph.D., Columbia University), Professor of Political Science a the University of California, Berkeley, was recently a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies, Hebrew University, Jerusalem. He was a Guggenheim Fellow in 1974 and is the author of numerous books, including The Taiwan Relations Act and the Defense of the Republic of China (1980). Dr. Gregor has also published monographs and more than sixty articles in Strategic Review, Journal of Strategic Studies, World Politics, etc.


The conclusions and opinions expressed in this document are those of the author cultivated in the freedom of expression, academic environment of Air University. They do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, the United States Air Force or the Air University.

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