US Presidential Election in 2020 - what does it mean for Taiwan?

William Stanton—quoted in a nicely detailed piece from Aljazeera—has this to say about the newly elected Biden administration:

William A Stanton, the former director of the American Institute of Taiwan, the de facto US embassy, said it was still difficult to tell how Biden would handle Taiwan since he has not yet announced his cabinet.

“You have to look carefully at the people he appoints and what their backgrounds are … Personnel is often policy,” he said.




In his latest piece, William Stanton states: “Taiwan’s American friends need to press hard for the policies we want to see the new [US] administration pursue toward Taiwan.”

He presents his wish list here. It’s a great read!


From the article

Despite Taiwan’s efforts under President Tsai Ing-wen to diversify its markets, it remains heavily dependent on trade with the PRC.

The PRC, including Hong Kong, still accounted for roughly 40 percent of Taiwan’s exports in 2019, twice that of the New Southbound Policy countries, which collectively made up almost 20 percent of exports. China remained Taiwan’s top export destination, with the U.S. in second place with 14 percent and Hong Kong in third place.

Which is why Taiwan is not going to bravely sever ties.

The U.S. should alter its policy of not supporting Taiwan’s membership in international organizations for which statehood is a requirement.

Gee, I wonder why Trump, who he so fulsomely praises, didn’t alter that?
Basically, it’s standard “Republican calls Democrat out for not doing all the things Republican failed to do.”

Perhaps caught up in the optimism of inauguration, the Taipei Times editorial page opines: “Taiwan might benefit from Biden.”


The always awesome William Stanton weighs on on the Biden administration’s initial moves:


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Another op-ed in the Taipei Times from Joseph Bosco, whom I described above as “perhaps the furth[est] right on the political spectrum of this paper’s regular op-ed contributors.”

In this latest piece, Bosco expresses his amazement that the Biden administration appears to be following the earlier administration’s views on China and Taiwan. Of course we need to wait and see, but if Bosco is placated (at least for now) then it does seem there will be continuity in the US position if not in its precise tactics. It’s well worth a read.


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In an op-ed published in today’s Taipei Times, Chris Patten—best known as the last British governor of Hong Kong—looks at the Biden administration’s initial moves regarding China, and likes what he sees:


Despite former US President Donald Trump’s chest-thumping mercantilism, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) would rather be facing a re-elected Trump than a Biden-led US. The reason is simple: the last thing China wants is for liberal democracies to come together to constrain its appalling behavior.

I suspect China wouldn’t want liberal democracies coming together to constrain China’s appalling behavior and I would also agree Biden would be better able to do that than Trump.

But over the decades the liberal democracies have had ample opportunity to do just that and haven’t. Instead we watched a rising and ever more aggressive China with ever more demanding conditions with worsening situation with regard to NK.

I hope Pattens words translate to actions we can see, I will wait and see before making my mind up how much weight to give his words.


Indeed we don’t yet know.

To his credit, Patten recognizes that the EU often pulls in other directions. As he puts it:

One hopes that EU member states will respond to proposals like these by showing some recognition of the threat that China poses to us all. The recently signed EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment will bring few benefits to European economies. Moreover, some EU members are deluded in thinking that the deal will improve labor standards in China and end forced labor there as well.

Unfortunately, European leaders in general, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in particular, are entrusting the development of a serious global role for Europe to the sales departments of Volkswagen and other large German carmakers. I fear that, as a result, the EU is making serious geostrategic blunders in relation to both China and Russia. Surely the Union retains some inkling of what its values are supposed to be.


Well, Britain talks a good fight, anyway:

Trade with China 2020:
UK +10%
US +8%
EU +5%