Peter S. Goodman seems unclear on the meaning of the word "nominal" when he says that the United States "is nominally pledged to come to Taiwan's aid in the event of war" ["China Tells Congress to Back Off Businesses," front page, July 5].

Section 2(b)(6) of the Taiwan Relations Act states: "It is the policy of the United States . . . to maintain the capacity of the United States to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of the people on Taiwan." In fact, this commitment is stronger than what was in the U.S.-Republic of China mutual defense treaty of 1954, which stipulated that in case of an armed attack each party "would act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional processes."

The strength and credibility of America's commitment to the success of democracy in Taiwan against communist China's increasingly alarming military expansion is a bellwether of our determination to remain the predominant power in Asia. While the U.S. commitment to Taiwan is not absolute, neither is it "nominal."

-- John J. Tkacik Jr.

Washington

The writer, a senior research fellow in Asian studies at the Heritage Foundation, is a retired Foreign Service officer.