After US president-elect Donald Trump’s stunning victory at the polls, Taiwan faces the question of what it means for US foreign policy and how Taipei should respond to a post-US President Barack Obama world.
Taiwan has long maintained a relatively close relationship with the US Republican Party due to the party’s anti-communist stance, not to mention that in July, the Republican National Convention included, for the first time, the “six assurances” — given to Taiwan by then-US president Ronald Reagan in 1982 — in its official platform.
However, given the glaring divide between Trump and the Republican Party establishment during his presidential campaign, it is an open question whether Trump will follow the party line on various issues, including foreign policy.
From what he has said about Asia, Trump wishes to punish China, which he has described as a “grand master” of currency manipulation, vowing to impose tariffs of up to 45 percent on Chinese products and initiate unfair trade lawsuits. While this might be an economic blow to China if he follows through on his rhetoric, Trump’s complaint about the US having to defend Japan and South Korea might be music to Beijing’s ears, because it suggests a reversal of Obama’s “pivot to Asia” policy. Democratic US presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton was expected to maintain the pivot if elected, as she was a major architect of the strategic shift during her stint as US secretary of state.
This so-called “rebalancing” has been regarded by Beijing as an attempt to contain Chinese interests, while highlighting Taiwan’s geostrategic value. A withdrawal from Asia as Trump has suggested would accelerate the realigning of some Asian countries with China, with the Philippines and Malaysia having started to warm to Beijing, and potentially marginalize Taiwan. Considering how ASEAN members rely on China for trade, Beijing having more say and sway in the region would undoubtedly undercut President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) “new southbound policy.”
Trump’s opposition to the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership is also likely to hurt Taiwan’s prospects of joining a trade agreement that would help it bypass efforts by Beijing to hinder Taipei’s formation of economic ties with the global community.
Ironically, Trump’s isolationist stance could mean he would be more willing than previous US administrations to sell arms to Taiwan, as a Taiwanese academic said before election day when asked to imagine a Trump presidency.
The weapons Trump might be prepared to sell to Taiwan could include those the US had not considered before, such as stealth fighters, AEGIS-equipped guided missile destroyers or the latest missile defense systems, the academic said.
However, there is also the possibility that “president Trump” will be a different proposition from “presidential candidate Trump,” as he will have to learn how to form an effective team and work with other Republican, if not Democratic, politicians.
The makeup of Trump’s foreign policy team will have to be closely examined, before Taiwan works out measures it needs to prepare itself for the change in US administration. Trump will have to rely on veteran Republican politicians and existing institutions to make significant decisions and formulate effective policies. In that sense, his foreign policy stance, at least in regard to Taiwan, might not be too remote from what is expected of a Republican US administration.
As China’s economy was meant to drive global economic growth this year, its dramatic slowdown is sounding alarm bells across the world, with economists and experts criticizing Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) for his unwillingness or inability to respond to the nation’s myriad mounting crises. The Wall Street Journal reported that investors have been calling on Beijing to take bolder steps to boost output — especially by promoting consumer spending — but Xi has deep-rooted philosophical objections to Western-style consumption-driven growth, seeing it as wasteful and at odds with his goal of making China a world-leading industrial and technological powerhouse, and
For Xi Jinping (習近平) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the military conquest of Taiwan is an absolute requirement for the CCP’s much more fantastic ambition: control over our solar system. Controlling Taiwan will allow the CCP to dominate the First Island Chain and to better neutralize the Philippines, decreasing the threat to the most important People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Strategic Support Force (SSF) space base, the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan Island. Satellite and manned space launches from the Jiuquan and Xichang Satellite Launch Centers regularly pass close to Taiwan, which is also a very serious threat to the PLA,
During a news conference in Vietnam on Sept. 10, a reporter asked US President Joe Biden about the possibility of China invading Taiwan. Biden replied that Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) is too busy handling major domestic economic problems to launch an invasion of Taiwan. On Wednesday last week, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office published a document outlining 21 measures to make the Chinese-controlled Fujian Province into a demonstration zone for relations with Taiwan. The planned measures would expand favorable treatment for Taiwanese people and companies, and seek to attract people from Taiwan to buy property and seek employment in Fujian.
More than 100 Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) vessels and aircraft were detected making incursions into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on Sunday and Monday, the Ministry of National Defense reported on Monday. The ministry responded to the incursions by calling on China to “immediately stop such destructive unilateral actions,” saying that Beijing’s actions could “easily lead to a sharp escalation in tensions and worsen regional security.” Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲), a research fellow at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research, said that the unusually high number of incursions over such a short time was likely Beijing’s response to efforts