Trump should commit US support to Taiwan right now

The Hill
Date: 12/04/20
By: Seth Cropsey, opinion contributor

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The Biden administration will immediately face serious foreign policy challenges, especially in the western Pacific where China’s provocations have accelerated since the coronavirus spread around the world. China’s attacks on Vietnamese fishing boats, elimination of freedoms promised to Hong Kong, threats to boycott Australian agricultural products, September clashes with Indian troops and accelerated probing of Taiwanese air and sea space — all demonstrate Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s increasing aggression.

The bullseye of these provocations is Taiwan, whose democracy contradicts mainland China’s insistence on tyranny as the only appropriate form of governance and threatens its imperial ambitions. What’s more, Taiwan’s geographic position blocks the Chinese navy’s unobstructed access to the central Pacific.

Ending Taiwan’s self-government is a fundamental Chinese objective. But preserving the U.S. position as the dominant, benevolent Pacific power is as critical to America’s economic future as it is to U.S. global security. A U.S. failure to honor the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), to assist Taiwan if it were to be attacked, would undermine every U.S. security alliance. No American president can ignore this.

Prior to the U.S. presidential election — and in light of China’s expanding regional provocations — the U.S. foreign policy community began to examine how to improve Washington’s ability to deter China from using force against Taiwan. From this emerged the question of “strategic ambiguity,” under which a state deliberately refuses to articulate its response to certain actions. 

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