ANALYSIS: How Should Taiwan Navigate the Global Stage If It Can’t Trust Trump?

A deep dive into how Taiwan can withstand a potential cold shoulder from the unreliable US President.

The News Lens
Date: 2019/01/31
By Ian Inkster, Asia Dialogue

Credit: Reuters / Kevin Lamarque

Most social scientists now regard global dynamics as a complex system, more akin to a human body than to the workings of a machine or a single economy, with more open-ends, fractals and complete unknowns than could ever be wanted by any analyst. Yet it persists in popping up. This is because – particularly in a high-trading economy such as Taiwan – forecasts or other analyses of major political trends in any nation fall victim to the untoward and often anarchic forces of the global system. If this is not through cultural impacts and convergences then it works through the more stalwart forces of trade, investment, labor migrations, information flows, military challenge or threat, and institutional networks.

So, to trust that we can now see forthcoming political events in Taiwan in the absence of the limelight shed by international trends would be whimsical, but to rely on the salience or machine-like logic of the outside world would be properly foolish.

For some time now Donald Trump has been in effective if confusing command over the withdrawal of the U.S. from global affairs at very different levels – abandoning the Syrian intervention, proclaiming the need for NATO to fund itself in Europe rather than rely on massive windfall gains from the American defense system, withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, urging that Japan be freed of the treaty restrictions binding its defense system so that it may take over erstwhile U.S. burdens in the Pacific, withdrawal from the world of migration and refugees by erecting a physical wall between the North and the South of the continent, abandoning the neo-liberal doctrine of free global markets for a protectionist regime that is only partially aimed at curbing Chinese economic power. The warnings for all of this came with the original presidential campaign and they might be taken altogether as the operational features of a new general U.S. philosophy.

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