American Justice In TaiwanThe 1957 Riots and Cold War Foreign Policy

American Justice In TaiwanThe 1957 Riots and Cold War Foreign Policy

Stephen G. Craft

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9780813166353

Publisher: University Press of Kentucky


On May 23, 1957, U.S. Army Sergeant Robert Reynolds was acquitted of murdering Chinese officer Liu Ziran in Taiwan. Reynolds did not deny shooting Liu but claimed self-defense and, like all members of U.S. Military Assistance and Advisory Groups, was protected under diplomatic immunity. Reynolds's acquittal sparked a series of riots across Taiwan that became an international crisis for the Eisenhower administration and raised serious questions about the legal status of U.S. military forces positioned around the world. In American Justice in Taiwan, Stephen G. Craft provides the first comprehensive study of the causes and consequences of the Reynolds trial and the ensuing protests. After a century of unfair treaties imposed by Western nations, the Taiwanese regarded the special legal status of resident American personnel with extreme distrust. While Eisenhower and his advisers considered Taiwan to be a vital ally against China, the United States believed that the Taiwanese government had instigated the unrest to protest the verdict and demand legal jurisdiction over GIs. The events that transpired exposed the enormous difficulty of applying the U.S. military's Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) across cultures. Employing meticulous research in both Western and Chinese archives, Craft demonstrates that the riots were only anti-American in that the Taiwanese rejected the UCMJ, the affording of diplomatic immunity to occupying U.S. forces, and the military courts' interpretation of self-defense. His compelling study provides a new lens through which to examine U.S.-Taiwan relations in the 1950s, U.S. policy in Asia, and the charged and complex question of the legal status of U.S. troops on foreign soil.