On May 23, 1957, US 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 US 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 US military forces positioned around the world.
In American Justice in Taiwan: The 1957 Riots and Cold War Foreign Policy (Kentucky University Press, 2017), Stephen G. Craft provides a multi-archival study of the causes and consequences of the Reynolds trial and the ensuing protests. After more than a century of what they perceived as 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 Chinese communism, the US believed that the Taiwanese government had instigated the unrest in order to protest the verdict and demand legal jurisdiction over GIs.