Before the outbreak of the Korean War, the Republic of Korea and the Republic of China claimed to be pro-American and tried to address pending issues, counting on aid from the United States. The U.S., however, assumed an indifferent and passive attitude toward military assistance that the two countries wanted to receive. The two governments regarded the similar attitude of the U.S. government as a military crisis in both countries. In particular, at the peak of the sense of crisis in the two countries were the announcements of the “withdrawal of the U.S. troops in Korea” and the “White Paper on the republic of China(Taiwan)-US Relations.” In the Cold War, the U.S. played a role as a leader of the free world, but that did not mean the nation could unconditionally support and assist others in the free world, ignoring its own national interests. The U.S. was not able to give a positive answer to the question about whether the influence of Korea and Taiwan in East Asia on the U.S. interests could be undeniable or not. Moreover, the U.S. government was concerned about a possibility that its military assistance to the two countries could heighten ideological conflicts in East Asia. For this reason, Elpidio Quirino who insisted on forming an anticommunist alliance like the North Atlantic Treaty withdrew his stance by the conciliation of the U.S., and changed into the anticommunist alliance into economic and cultural relations.
Back then, Syng-man Rhee and Kai-shek Chiang tried to persuade the U.S. to continue to provide military assistance for the two nations. One of their attempts was the Jinhae Meeting held to carry on discussions on the Pacific Alliance. The two leaders seemed to think that their determined attitude would press Washington. However, as the U.S. did not show a positive change in its stance, the two countries had to have an alternative plan in mind, which was military cooperation between the two nations. Korea attempted to purchase arms from the U.S. with the economic aid that Korea received from Washington, but reached a deadlock several times. Korea planned to purchase war supplies from Taiwan and sent a detailed list to Taiwan. Meanwhile, Taiwan planned to set up a military base in Jeju Island to launch counterattack mainland China. However, the Korean government denied its involvement in Chiang’s plan, saying there was no discussion about it at all between the two nations.
Syng-man Rhee and Kai-shek Chiang’s attempt to seek military cooperation was considered as an alternative plan in case aid from the U.S. would be seized, but the bilateral cooperation that the two leaders envisioned was different. Later, Rhee was able to receive arms aid from the U.S., and thus to reject Chiang’s burdensome proposal. Moreover, Rhee made clear that he would follow Quirino’s anticommunist alliance even if the alliance was degenerated and was limited to economic and cultural relations. He came to think that the role of Quirino in its relation with the United States was stronger than that of Chiang. Rhee even said that he could accept the suggestion to exclude Chiang’s Kuomintang of China from the alliance.
The anticommunist alliance that they claimed to support was the most commonly observed form during the Cold War. What mattered in forming an alliance was whether each government had a solid and lasting foundation. The relation between the republic of China and Korea in the traditional order was intimately interdependent, and they had to count on each other. Around the time of the Korean War, however, Chiang’s government was weak like a candle flickering in the wind. In addition, the background that both Korea and the republic of China had to prioritize was the U.S., and the two nations’ relation could be affected by the U.S.. For this reason, Korea and the republic of China were allied due to the attitude of the U.S., but the alliance was not inseparable.
From the perspective of the U.S. that had to maintain its international relations while having its own interests and security in mind, neither Korea and Taiwan was an undeniable choice like Europe for the U.S. before the outbreak of the Korean War. As people know well, there were significant changes after the outbreak of the Korean War, and both Korea and China were able to maintain their relation as an ally that aids and gives support to each other although they were unable to exchange military assistance.