Trump and his Pro-Taiwan Position

In the United States, Donald Trump assumed the office with a vision of changing the current Washington, and “Making America Great Again.” Clearly, Trump took office with a different style of leadership from Obama. His platform discussed fairer trade agreements, less external interference, and sturdier borders. In addition, he viewed globalization as a system that is hurting the American citizen and emphasizes most of his attention to politics and economic revitalization.

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For example, once trump took office, virtually instantly abandon the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Paris Climate Agreement and passed legislation for a stricter travel ban. At times, it gave the impression he sought to undue his former predecessor, President Obama, accomplishments. In 2018, Trump’s adviser Anthony Scaramucci stated, “post-WWII world is no longer suitable for the current world.” Trump’s foreign policy philosophy summarizes into one statement: The United States will no longer share its power or govern the world together with other powers or international institutions. Scholars would argue the vision of a multiplex world would not form under Trump’s leadership and enter a classic power competition phase.

However, interesting enough, Trump has stated his pro-Taiwan position at the beginning of his presidency. Even before taking office, Donald Trump criticized former presidents against their actions. To him, it seems they were missteps and it sacrificed Taiwan to satisfy mainland China. During his campaign in 2016, stated, “it’s time for America to fully and firmly recommit to an island that is indeed both a beacon of democracy and critical to the U.S. defense strategy in Asia.” Additionally, in the same year, the GOP platform lauding Taiwan’s’ political and economic values. In the platform, the plan illustrated the full participation of Taiwan in international organization, even encouraging heightened weapons sales to the island, and the military commitment for the support of defending Taiwan. This reflects the idea of Taiwan card manipulation in President-Elect Trump’s earlier challenge of the one-China policy.

China-U.S. interactions in the triangular structure needs to be closely analyzed. Even though United States President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping relationship is rather “interesting”, scholars couldn’t not neglect the potential of a step back in the structure in his future administration. Like previous mention, Donald Trump’s platform composed mostly of bilateral trade with a robust concentration of America first while being reluctant to multilateral architecture and international regime.

In a thesis, the writer interestedly puts a new perspective on trump by comparing him to Andrew Jackson. Andrew Jackson was one of the earliest Presidents of the U.S. “His embrace of populism and unilateralism has made scholars and policy practitioners to think of him as his predecessor back to the early 19th century, Andrew Jackson, the first populist president in American history. As a Jacksonian president, Trump’s priority is to shore up U.S. domestic economy instead of paying asymmetrically for American global leadership. His intention to break with traditional diplomatic norms also inevitably altered Asian people’s perception of the credibility of the United States’ threat of force.” – Wen Zhouxing

The erratic Trump administration has also brought allegations for Taipei-Washington relations. Since Washington has withdrawn from the regional economic architecture of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and shown less concern about the human rights issue, the Tsai administration’s three-prong strategy of allying with the United States in terms of economy, value, and security has lost two legs, highlighting the issue of sustainability of status quo across the Taiwan Strait. President Trump’s priorities are trade agreements and North Korea issues.

On the Asian front, Trump commencing a trade and labeling China as the “economic enemy” then followed by the increase of usual presence in the south china sea convey a clear message and heightened the tension. Most of the high-ranking officials dealing with trade, including U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, support a tougher stance towards the trade deal. The Trump administration’s resoluteness to push China on these two critical issues is reflected in U.S. National Security Strategy released at the end of 2017 and the 2018 National Defense Strategy, in which China is labeled as one of America’s major “strategic competitors,” along with Russia, on both economic and military fronts.

Underneath Trump administration, he claims that “we are emerging from a period of strategic atrophy” and “that our competitive military advantage has been eroding,” rendering Washington-Beijing ties preoccupied with more fierce competition vis-à-vis strategic cooperation in the years down the road. This does not suggest that China-U.S. relations are doomed to be pessimistic as the two powers are comprehensively interdependent and without China’s cooperation America can achieve limited outcomes in global affairs. What it means is that more efforts and dialogues are indispensable for making a working relationship between the two countries.

Trump’s earlier challenge to and later acceptance of the one-China policy have demonstrated that the president’s ignorance of foreign affairs can be improved only through a belated learning process depending on individual channels rather than institutional decision-making processes. When considering all decisions by the U.S. government and Congress concerning Taiwan after Trump’s inauguration, one can feel that the strategic importance of Taiwan is reemphasized.

Since the beginning of 2017, for instance, Washington has increased its security cooperation with the island, particularly in a nontraditional sphere like antiterrorism. Besides, the arms sale of a $1.42 billion arms package—including seven proposed defense sales—to Taiwan on 29 June 2017 is the first such sale under the Trump administration. This package includes advanced missiles and torpedoes as well as technical support for an early warning radar system, which has surely overshadowed the Xi-Trump summit in April of that year and threatened to undermine PRC-U.S. relations. In the following Year, the US has approved a 330 million-dollar arm sale to Taiwan in support for the government of Taipei. The proposed deal, which has not been finalized yet, covers parts for Taiwan’s F-16, C-130, F-5, indigenous defense fighter and other aircraft systems. Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency stated, “Taiwan continues to be an important force for political stability, military balance and economic progress.

In addition, the U.S. Congress has pushed for new resolutions to upgrade Washington-Taipei relations, enhance the security of Taiwan, and bolster Taiwan’s participation in international organizations such as the WHA, Interpol, and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Some proposals may lead to a port call of the U.S. Navy to Taiwan and sending uniformed marines to the AIT in Taiwan.

Another decision that would exert an extremely serious impact on the cornerstone of U.S.-China relations is the passage of the Taiwan Travel Act (TTA), which was passed without amendment by unanimous consent in the U.S. Senate on 28 February 2018, expressing “the sense of Congress that the U.S. government should encourage visits between U.S. and Taiwanese officials at all levels.” President Trump’s signature of the TTA indicates a breakthrough in Washington’s and Taipei’s unofficial relationship at the price of U.S.-China ties. This is followed by Washington’s reluctance to allow American airlines to redefine Taiwan as a non-state—under Beijing’s pressure—on their websites. The Global Times reported a statement from China’s official newspaper pointing “China will and should take timely countermeasure if high-level contacts began to occur. The following weekend, the Chinese embassy in Washington express its firm opposition to the law. Whether any diplomatic will be send on an informal or formal visit in the future is unclear, however the effects of any dialogue would raise the tension that already exist.

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