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In dealing with the delicate issue of Taiwan, most governments follow the American model. They vow at regular intervals that they recognize only One China—the People's Republic—but then send diplomatic personnel to Taipei (under commercial cover), trade with the Un-China, and maintain discreet official contact. The much heavier burden of maintaining peace in the Taiwan Strait—making sure China doesn't try to take Taiwan by force, or Taipei doesn't provoke Beijing into trying—is shouldered by Washington alone.

Now Japan is lending the U.S. support on that potential battle line. Two weeks ago, Washington and Tokyo issued a joint communiqué...

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