Syria, Mattis, Chinese Hackers & Taiwan’s Place in Trump’s Fiefdom

Is Taiwan a ‘product on the shelf’ for the US, or can Taipei keep calling Washington its best foreign friend?

The News Lens
Date: 2018/12/21
By: Nick Aspinwall

Credit: AP / TPG

A handful of recent news items from the United States may have direct or incidental impacts on Taiwan:

  • U.S. President Donald Trump announced he would withdraw all U.S. military troops from Syria within 30 days. The decision is at odds with Trump’s top military advisors, including Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who announced he would resign in February.
  • The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has indicted two alleged Chinese hackers for infiltrating governments and companies in at least 12 countries. The hackers stand accused of being part of the state-affiliated Advanced Persistent Threat 10 (APT10) group, according to the DOJ.
  • Six U.S. senators have authored a letter to top U.S. intelligence bureaus and officials urging them to investigate alleged Chinese election meddling in Taiwan’s recent regional elections.

These moves will affect Syrian Kurds, left vulnerable in the Middle East, and already strained U.S.-China ties. They may also influence the suddenly murky future of Trump’s broader foreign policy.

Mattis departs: A disagreement over ‘treating allies with respect’

Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria came after he dubiously claimed on Twitter the U.S. has “won” against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). While ISIS has been weakened, Syria remains unstable and the risk of further destabilization is high, International Rescue Committee president David Miliband told the New York Times.

The decision rattled Trump’s own inner circle, including Mattis, who Vox called “the last ‘adult’ in the Trump administration” – a stabilizing force in an ocean of chaos. In his letter of resignation, Mattis said he and Trump disagreed on “treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors.”    [FULL  STORY]

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