US Presidential Elections 2020: The Taiwan Factor

Insights from Elizabeth Freund Larus.The Diplomat
Date: October 05, 2020
By: Mercy A. Kuo

Trans-Pacific View author Mercy Kuo regularly engages subject-matter experts, policy practitioners, and strategic thinkers across the globe for their diverse insights into U.S. Asia policy.  This conversation with Elizabeth Freund Larus – chairman of the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Mary Washington and author of “US President Obama’s China Policy: A Critical Assessment” – is the 241st in “The Trans-Pacific View Insight Series.”

Examine how a Biden administration or second-term Trump administration would engage Taiwan amid escalating U.S.-China rivalry.

Some aspects of the U.S.-Taiwan relationship are clear, others not. Let’s start with what we know. We know that since the 1930s, Congress has been supportive of the Republic of China (Taiwan). That support continues. In fact, it appears that the 116th Congress in the past two years alone passed, and President Trump signed into law, six pieces of legislation that favor Taiwan. For instance, the National Defense Authorization acts of 2018, 2019, and 2020 all call for strengthening defense partnership between the United States and Taiwan; the 2018 Taiwan Travel Act (TTA) encourages visits between U.S. and Taiwan officials, including high-level officials; the 2018 Asia Reassurance Initiative Act (ARIA) commits the U.S. to counter Beijing’s efforts to alter the cross-strait status quo; and the 2020 Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) calls for observer status for Taiwan in international organizations.

In addition to this legislation, the Trump administration approved seven arms deals worth more than $13 billion. Moreover, Congress since early 2019 has introduced nearly 400 pieces of China-related legislation, much of it critical of Beijing. This indicates that the 116th Congress is one of the most critical of China in decades. Congress has also praised Taiwan for its successful response to the COVID-19 pandemic and criticized China for its response to the outbreak in Wuhan.    [FULL  STORY]

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