Home> Archive> 2022> Volume 12 Number 4 ( Nov. 2022)
IJSSH 2022 Vol.12(4): 318-322 ISSN: 2010-3646
doi: 10.18178/ijssh.2022.V12.1109

Chairman Mao’s Crisis, Superpowers’ Nuclear Dance: The Nuclear Risk in 1958 Taiwan Strait Crisis

Deye Li

Abstract—A considerable amount of scholarly work on the theory of nuclear risk and the history of the 1958 Taiwan Strait Crisis exists in the field, yet no research was done to systemically examine the nuclear risk in the 1958 Crisis. This study aims to establish a theoretical framework of assessing nuclear risk and employ it to measure the risk of limited and total nuclear escalation during the 1958 Crisis. This study operationalizes three theories of nuclear escalation risk, including direct escalation risk, inadvertent escalation risk, and accidental escalation risk, through specific causalities in the 1958 crisis. To assess the nuclear risk in the 1958 Crisis, this study uses archival documents and secondary sources from all participant countries including the US, USSR, and China. I find that Mao deliberately played with the nuclear risk because he had no stake throughout the crisis. The Eisenhower administration was unwilling to retaliate massively, while seriously committed and contemplated the nuclear use if China bombed and invaded Quemoy and Matsu. Khrushchev danced with Eisenhower amid serious fear of nuclear war. I conclude that the nuclear risk in all three kinds was relatively low. The findings are important since nuclear armament is always a matter of life and death for countries.

Index Terms—international relations history, nuclear crisis. Taiwan, Cold War, escalation theory

Deye Li currently studies in The George Washington University, Washington, USA (e-mail: deyeli@gwu.edu).


Cite: Deye Li, "Chairman Mao’s Crisis, Superpowers’ Nuclear Dance: The Nuclear Risk in 1958 Taiwan Strait Crisis," International Journal of Social Science and Humanity vol. 12, no. 4, pp. 318-322, 2022.

Copyright © 2022 by the authors. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).


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