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.
‘NO EQUILIBRIUM’: Taiwan’s increased defense spending is a good step, but it needs to do more to have the ability to deter aggression from China, a senior US official said The US plans to sell as many as seven major weapons systems — including mines, cruise missiles and drones — to Taiwan, four people familiar with the discussions said. Pursuing seven sales at once is a rare departure from years of precedent in which US military sales to Taiwan were spaced out and carefully calibrated to minimize tensions with Beijing. However, US President Donald Trump’s administration has this year become more aggressive with China, and the sales would land as relations between Beijing and Washington are at their lowest point in decades over accusations of spying, lingering trade tensions, disputes about the
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: Several of the PLA fighter jets that crossed the median line of the Strait came within 68km of Hsinchu, drawing warnings from Taiwan, the ministry said At least 18 Chinese military aircraft yesterday flew into the nation’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on the second day of a US delegation’s visit, the Ministry of National Defense said, adding that the military responded by deploying an air defense missile system to monitor their activities. A delegation led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach on Thursday started a three-day visit to Taiwan. The ministry from Thursday started publicizing the actions of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Taiwan’s ADIZ on its Web site and Twitter. According to ministry reports, 18 PLA aircraft
TWO CASES: The five allegedly conspired with conglomerates, threatening the nation’s governance and subverting the rules of ethical conduct, a deputy chief prosecutor said Taipei prosecutors yesterday charged three legislators and one former lawmaker with contravening the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例) in a case linked to former Pacific Distribution Investment Co (太平洋流通) chairman Lee Heng-lung’s (李恆隆) battle with the Far Eastern Group (遠東集團) over ownership of the Pacific SOGO Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨) chain, while independent Legislator Chao Cheng-yu (趙正宇) was indicted in a separate case involving two funeral services companies and a plot of land in a national park. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Chen Chao-ming (陳超明) and Sufin Siluko (廖國棟), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) and former New Power Party legislator
Swedish Member of Parliament Hampus Hagman is pushing for changing the name of the nation’s trade office in Taipei to signal improved relations with “Asia’s perhaps foremost democracy.” Hagman on Wednesday last week proposed renaming the Swedish Trade and Invest Council to “Sweden’s Office in Taipei,” following similar changes by other nations. The Swedish Trade and Invest Council, part of Business Sweden, is owned by the Swedish government and Swedish industry. Taiwan and Sweden share important values such as respect for democracy, human rights, the rule of law and freedom of speech, Hagman said in the motion, adding that the two nations