Trump Might Just Be Good For Taiwan

Michael Turton , November 14, 2016 11:28am

The speculation over Taiwan and the new Trump Administration has included some very strange assertions, especially from the KMT, that Taiwan might well become some kind of bargaining chip.

Nope. Not gonna happen. In fact, Taiwan’s position vis-a-vis* the US is almost certainly going to improve. For starters, the new Sec of the Navy might well be Randy Forbes. Forbes is a longtime supporter of Taiwan. Forbes’ staffer Alexander Gray will be on the Asia team — also likes Taiwan. Other names mentioned include Randy Schriver, very pro-Taiwan, and perhaps the very gracious Steve Yates (a quiet inspiration for this blogger), very pro-Taiwan. Richard Armitage, who has long worked on Taiwan issues, has also been mentioned.

Most of those names will be familiar, but others might not be. Just in Taiwan very recently was Ed Feulner (note this 2011 piece), obvious where his sympathies are. And then there is Peter Navarro, in the news here with strong statements: Trump Advisor indicates Taiwan stance? “China is behaving like a bullying thug against Taiwan” (video). John Bolton, a longtime Taiwan supporter, has been rumored to be a possibility for Sec of State. Most of these people worked in the Bush Administration as well.

All of these people, and any eventual Trump Administration, will likely take a much harder line than the Clinton Administration on China, or so some insiders have already declared. The Trump Administration is not going to have any of those “We will achieve a breakthrough!” delusions that afflicted the Clinton Administration, nor do any of its people come out of consulting firms doing business with China. And in the geopolitical calculus that governs the Strait, when the US moves away from China, it moves towards Taiwan. Indeed, suggestions that the Trump Administration represents a fresh start for US-Taiwan relations are already flying into mags where such pieces appear.

But for those of you making mental calculations about when war is going to break out here in Asia, you should probably advance your timetables. Xi is not going to become less hardline, and the US is becoming even more hardline. Just last week Chinese “coast guard” vessels once again tested the Senkaku waters. And David Feith argued in WSJ that Trump will increase the Nuke Crisis in Asia

Interesting times…

Michael Turton

A long time expat in Taiwan.