OPINION: Taiwan Should See the Failed Trump-Kim Summit as a Warning

Taiwanese perceptions of Trump as a rational decision maker miss the mark, writes Brian Hioe.

he News Lens
Date: 2019/03/05
By: Brian Hioe

Credit: AP / Evan Vucci

The meeting last week between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and American president Donald Trump offers lessons for Taiwan in terms of Trump’s unpredictability.

Namely, perceptions in Taiwanese media and among influential thinkers upon policy sometimes continue to be far off the mark in terms of still viewing Trump as a rational decision maker and placing a great deal of blind faith in him. Views in Taiwan are often that Trump’s unpredictable political behavior is a form of high-risk negotiating tactic.

Trump is often seen in Taiwan as quintessentially a businessman, with a great deal of uncritical acceptance of the image that Trump himself hopes to project publicly, as being a skilled dealmaker and negotiator. As such, there will inevitably be those in Taiwan who believe that Trump calling off negotiations with Kim was simply a negotiating tactic in order to secure more concessions from Kim.

With such a view, actions that Trump has taken against the interests of longtime American allies such as Japan and South Korea, in threatening to withdraw American troops from bases in both, are generally seen as a negotiating tactic aimed at coercing Japan and South Korea to pay more money to America in return for maintaining American military bases. Again, this would be a form of bargaining. Incidents when Trump unexpectedly acts against Taiwanese interests are also usually seen along such lines.

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