US President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival, former US vice president Joe Biden, are holding their final debate tonight. In their foreign policy debate, China is sure to be a major issue of contention for the two candidates.
Here are several questions the moderator should pose to the candidates:
For both: In the first televised US presidential debates in 1960, then-Democratic candidate John F. Kennedy and his Republican counterpart, Richard Nixon, were asked whether the US should intervene if communist China attacked Taiwan’s outlying islands of Kinmen and Matsu.
Kennedy said no, unless the main island of Taiwan was also attacked. Nixon said the US should defend all of Taiwan, including its main island and the smaller ones.
Sixty years later, China is again threatening to attack Taiwan, possibly starting with Kinmen and Matsu. What should Washington’s position be?
For Biden: In 1995, China fired missiles across the Taiwan Strait and asked what the US would do if it attacked Taiwan. Then-US president Bill Clinton’s administration answered: “We don’t know and you don’t know; it would depend on the circumstances.” That policy of strategic ambiguity has been followed by every subsequent Democratic and Republican administration.
Should it still be the US approach? Or, since China believes it can successfully pull off a military move against Taiwan, is it time to be clear on US intentions and deter China from the kind of miscalculation that triggered the Korean War?
For Trump: You told Fox News recently that China knows what the US would do if it attacks Taiwan, presumably because you or someone in your administration told Chinese officials. But does Taiwan know the US’ intentions? Certainly, the American people do not yet know.
Are you prepared to inform them tonight what the US policy is on defending Taiwan?
For both: A Chinese military official has said that Beijing could teach the US a lesson if it helps defend Taiwan by sinking an aircraft carrier or two, and killing 5,000 to 10,000 sailors.
Do you take such a threat seriously — and does it intimidate Washington from helping to defend Taiwan?
For both: In Xinjiang Province, China is committing what international observers describe as genocide against Muslim Uighurs. The US Congress passed legislation, which the president signed, to punish Beijing by imposing sanctions on Chinese officials responsible for the persecution.
What more should the US and the international community do to get China to stop, or to make it pay an unacceptable price?
For both: In Tibet, China is committing what international experts describe as cultural genocide. The US Congress passed legislation, which the president signed, to punish Beijing by imposing sanctions on Chinese officials responsible for the persecution.
Is the US doing all that it can to mobilize the international community against China for its oppression of the Tibetan people and destruction of Tibetan culture?
For both: In Hong Kong, China is unilaterally scrapping the commitment it made to political autonomy for Hong Kongers under “one country, two systems.” The US Congress passed legislation, which the president signed, to punish Beijing by cutting off its Hong Kong access to the US and international financial system, but the law has not been fully implemented because some US commercial interests will be damaged.
Should Washington carry out the full intent of the law and cut Hong Kong off from the international banking system?
For both: Should the US organize an international effort to reverse China’s militarization of the South China Sea?
For both: China has protected North Korea from international sanctions for its odious human rights violations, including Soviet-style gulags where millions of North Koreans have been incarcerated and persecuted. China has also supported and enabled Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs while telling the world that it opposes them, and undermined US and international sanctions against Kim Jong-un’s regime.
Should the US impose punishing secondary sanctions against China and Chinese officials?
For both: In addition to its oppression of Uighurs in Xinjiang and Buddhists in Tibet, the communist Chinese government is persecuting Christians, and other religious and spiritual groups. It has subjected the Falun Gong and political prisoners to murderous atrocities, such as the harvesting of human organs for commercial sale.
Should the US call upon the UN to investigate and publicize China’s human rights violations?
For Trump: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called upon the international community to help the Chinese people pressure the Chinese Communist Party to change its behavior. That would require an information campaign similar to what was done during the Cold War to get the truth to populations trapped behind the Iron Curtain.
However, the agencies charged with carrying out that kind of program — Voice of America and Radio Free Asia — have been decimated by your new appointee. Do you plan to revive and reinvigorate those information programs to encourage peaceful reform in China?
For Biden: Do you support a Cold War approach to peaceful regime change in China?
For both: How should China be punished for its deception that enabled COVID-19 to spread worldwide into a pandemic?
Joseph Bosco served as China country director in the office of the US secretary of defense. He is a fellow at the Institute for Taiwan-American Studies and a member of the Global Taiwan Institute’s advisory committee.
There are few coincidences in the world of foreign diplomacy. Two days after a Japanese government donation of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Taiwan on Friday last week, a US delegation led by US senators Tammy Duckworth, Dan Sullivan and Chris Coons touched down at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) in a US military transport aircraft, which flew in from Osan Air Base in South Korea. The cross-party delegation of US senators announced that Washington would donate 750,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses to Taiwan in the first wave of the US Foreign Vaccine Sharing Program. Japan and the US’ vaccine donations are
Over the past year, scores of gargantuan Chinese sand dredgers have deployed themselves in territorial waters off the Taiwanese-administered Matsu Islands, where their activities erode beaches and ruin fishing shoals. These Chinese ships are mercenary; a small 5,000 ton ship could sell a load of sand for the equivalent of US$55,000 to Fujian construction firms — or to the People’s Liberation Army for use in building its artificial reefs in the South China Sea. They also frustrate Taiwan’s government, which tries unsuccessfully to cooperate with Beijing on environmental stewardship of their contiguous waters. Each day, Taiwanese Coast Guard vessels can
US President Joe Biden has directed an intensive study of the origin of the coronavirus pandemic. In the process of that review, the intelligence community also should look at the larger question: Did China take advantage of the pandemic’s ravaging spread as a limited form of biological warfare against its perceived adversaries? The notion, as unthinkable as it might seem, is no longer as implausible or paranoid as it was earlier portrayed. Mounting questions and evidence have cast doubt on the likelihood that the deadly pathogen sprang naturally from an animal to human. Governments outside China are focusing attention on