Leading international relations academics and former high-ranking diplomatic and security officials yesterday discussed the possible effects of Donald Trump’s election as US president on Taiwan-US relations
“Our consensus is that we have no idea what he is thinking,” pan-green Taiwan Thinktank member Lai I-chung (賴怡忠) said as panelists debated whether Trump’s promised shake-up of US foreign policy would sacrifice Taiwan’s security interests.
“This is the least familiar we have ever been with a US president-elect,” former National Security Bureau director Tsai Der-sheng (蔡得勝) said at the panel sponsored by Taipei Forum, while expressing concern over Trump’s emphasis on reaching new deals to protect US interests.
Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times
“I am concerned that Taiwan will end up as a bargaining chip, because Trump is a businessman who cares primarily about his interests,” Tsai said, adding that the nation should watch out for possible abandonment by Washington.
“As long as [Trump] sees it as being in the interests of the US or himself, he will be willing to hold discussions on anything,” he said. “Businesspeople only want to talk about the end result and Trump could be willing to use different means as long as he gets the result he wants.”
“The reality is that Taiwan already has very little strategic value to the US — far less than we often imagine,” former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) said, rejecting a statement by Academia Sinica research fellow Joanne Chang (裘兆琳) that Taiwan is the “crown jewel” of the US’ East Asia policy.
Chang earlier said that Taiwan is crucial for the efforts to foster China’s democratization.
“Taiwan might be China’s crown jewel, but it is not the crown jewel of the US, so there is always the possibility that if negotiations break down, the US will put us on the table,” Su said, adding that he is “alert but not worried” about the possibility of Washington abandoning Taiwan, calling for close attention to be paid to negotiations between the US and China over places of geostrategic importance.
“We have to realize that cross-strait relations are not just a game of ping-pong with China and they also include other factors besides our direct relations with the US,” he said.
“Negotiations between the US and China would not start out talking about Taiwan, but we could end up getting swept into negotiations over North Korea and the Middle East,” Su added.
“The reality is that we have always been a bargaining chip — or at least the US has never ruled out that possibility,” former minister of foreign affairs Chen Chien-jen (程建人) said, while dismissing abandonment concerns on grounds that current ties already meet US interests.
“We have not been let go because the US has not been willing to let us go, not necessarily because we have held on tight,” he said.
Former representative to the US Shen Lyu-shun (沈呂巡) said robust support for Taiwan in the US Congress would help guarantee good relations, adding that at least some of Trump’s closest advisers had advocated close ties with Taiwan.
“I feel confident, because if people like [former US House of Representatives speaker] Newt Gingrich, US Senator Jeff Sessions and [former US ambassador to the UN] John Bolton end up serving as Trump’s advisers on Asia-Pacific affairs, we should have a lot of opportunities,” he said.
‘LOCAL TRANSMISSION’: The nation reported 11 new cases, including seven local infections in the north, the highest daily number of cases since the pandemic began The COVD-19 situation has entered the “local transmission” stage and enhanced disease prevention measures have been implemented until June 8, the Central Epidemic Command Center announced yesterday as it reported six locally transmitted cases with unclear infection sources. The center reported 11 new cases yesterday: four imported cases from India, and seven local infections in northern Taiwan, the highest daily number of cases since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that one of the local infections — case No. 1,201 — is a woman who is a family member living with
SIXTEEN LOCAL: Three COVID-19 infections are linked to a cluster at a gambling house in Yilan County, 10 to a case in New Taipei City and three had unclear sources The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday urged people to increase vigilance and thoroughly practice preventive measures against COVID-19 as it reported 16 locally transmitted cases of the disease. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that 21 cases were confirmed in Taiwan yesterday: 16 local cases, four imported cases and one case undetermined. The locally transmitted cases are three linked to a cluster of infections at a gambling house in Yilan County, 10 associated with a previous case in New Taipei City and three with unclear sources of infection. The CECC on Tuesday reported a cluster
TRACING TROUBLE: An infected man who had said that all his children were abroad was found to have a daughter in Kaohsiung who tested positive, the center said The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported a new daily record of 29 local COVID-19 cases, including seven cases with unknown sources of infection. Of the 29 cases, 16 are linked to tea houses in Taipei’s Wanhua District (萬華), Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, told a news briefing in Taipei. The 16 are tea house workers or visitors, or their contacts, the CECC said. Workers and visitors to the establishments have frequent interpersonal contact, but few protective measures against the COVID-19 pandemic are in place, Chen said, urging those who have been exposed or have
GRID PROBLEM: A Taipower spokesman said that the blackouts were not due to usage exceeding supply, nor were they because of a problem at the Singda plant There were rolling blackouts across Taiwan yesterday due to a grid malfunction at the Singda Power Plant (興達電廠) in Kaohsiung’s Yongan District (永安), while Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) said that it was working “as hard as possible to resolve the issue as soon as possible.” At 2:37pm, a malfunction at an ultra-high-voltage substation in Kaohsiung’s Lujhu District (路竹) triggered four generators at the Singda plant to go offline, cutting power output by 2.2 million kilowatts and prompting Taipower to initiate rolling blackouts nationwide as it worked on the problem. Taipower spokesman Chang Ting-shu (張廷抒) told a news conference in Taipei that