Donald Trump is No Friend of Taiwan

Lecture | March 20 | 4 p.m. |  Doe Library

 Shelley Rigger, Political Science, Davidson College

 Institute of East Asian Studies (IEAS), Center for Chinese Studies (CCS)

Many Americans believe Taiwan is an important friend and partner to the US. The prospect of a foreign policy iconoclast in the White House appealed to many of Taiwan’s supporters in the US, especially those who are active in US foreign policy circles. Former officials of the George W Bush administration, in particular, have spent the past 8 years arguing that it is time for the US to upgrade its relations with Taiwan and take a firm stance against Beijing’s demand that the US distance itself from Taiwan. For this group, Donald J. Trump’s tough talk about China on the campaign trail appeared to be an opportunity to push through a more pro-Taiwan agenda. Their efforts seemed to bear fruit in early December when president-elect Trump spoke on the telephone with Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen. That moment may well turn out to be the high point in US-Taiwan relations under Trump, however. Beginning only hours after the phone call, and continuing through the early months of his presidency, Trump took a series of actions that damaged Taiwan’s interests and undermined trust between Taipei and Washington. If the trend continues, Taiwan’s supporters may find themselves looking back at the Obama years with nostalgia.

 ieas@berkeley.edu, 510-642-2809