Sunday, November 6, 2016

If you care about Taiwan, vote Clinton.

Every expat in Taiwan ought to listen to ICRT's last Taiwan This Week podcast on how the US election might impact Taiwan - the views of one of the speakers (the one who points out that Trump doesn't care about human rights and therefore he can't be expected to care about Taiwan for any reason other than money, which is massively dangerous for Taiwan) especially resonates with me and what I've been saying about how the US election will affect us. I was less  sympathetic to Mr. "It doesn't matter who becomes president, these issues will be similar in any case..." guy in the beginning. He seemed to really not get how terrifyingly selfish, shallow and narcissistic Trump is and how destructive a Trump administration could be, but later comments about how Trump is willfully uninterested in international issues including those related to Taiwan resonated more with me.

As I don't really have Trumpist friends - if I did I wouldn't be their friend anymore because I view support for Trump as something of a moral or character defect more than simple political differences - but I do have a lot of super lefty Stein supporters, it is also wise to go read what she has said on the US's role in East Asia:

OnTheIssues: How would you maintain relations with China and human rights vs. debt?
Stein: We should deal with China like a member of global community--stop isolating and intimidating China--that is not gonna work.

OnTheIssues: What about the latest standoff in the South China Sea?

Stein: It is wrongheaded for us to deal with territorial rights on the borders of China--what I mean by dealing with China as a member of global community is not to isolate them. On US debt, they finance all sorts of 3rd-world countries in a way that is far less heavy-handed than the US--we need to compete with China on that. We do need to stand up on human rights--but we need to do that inside the US or it does not pass the laugh test. Like in our jails and in our schools and in our courts and the way that we treat immigrants--we have created them and then we criminalize them. We need to get our own house in order first--stand up for human rights in China, yes, but also in Israel and Saudi Arabia too.

Remember that Taiwan is one of China's "territorial claims" on its periphery. So what this means is that she would not interfere with a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. Her commitment to peace and scaling down the military outweighs any concern she might have for Taiwan's liberal democracy and its resonance with US values.

Forget Gary Johnson, if he doesn't know "what" Aleppo is, he can't be expected to know that Taiwan exists and therefore won't be a very strong ally of Taiwan.

I'm only mentioning them in case anyone was planning to vote for them - I don't seriously think either will get elected, so I won't pursue those ideas further.

I'm less concerned about trade and investment concerns and more concerned with whether the new US administration will honor its commitments - such as they are (and they aren't great) - to Taiwan in terms of maintaining peace between Taiwan and China.

What it comes to, then, is that honestly, Clinton is the only choice. I do wish the podcast above had touched on that a bit more. I felt it was quite weak in that area, focusing more on economics especially toward the beginning. Or perhaps too 'gentlemanly' when a strong statement is called for.

I can seriously criticize a lot of Clinton's foreign policy - and I do - but she is obviously one of the foremost experts in the world on what the issues are, what the conflicts are, where they are and why they are important. She is the only candidate who even understands, let alone has a chance of honoring, the implied US support for Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion. She is fairly tough on China, and in the right ways - on human rights more so than trade.

Trump? He only cares about money and trade, is not concerned with helping or allying with countries in ways that can't enrich the US or are not immediately of value he can understand. He may hate China, but not because of its values - he hates China because he thinks China "beating the US on trade" (they're not). He has said the US should not be in the business of working with, let alone helping, "weaker" countries, implying he would abandon NATO allies without a second thought.

Assuming Trump has even heard of Taiwan - I doubt it, but let's play pretend - he would see no reason to use US influence to warn China off of war with Taiwan. He might even think Taiwan is already a part of China, and possibly lump Taiwan in with China as a country that is sucking American manufacturing jobs (it's not, at least not anymore).

He doesn't care about Taiwan's democracy. He doesn't care about human rights. He doesn't care about Taiwan and the US's shared values, and while its lovely that "Taiwan US relations are based on shared values and transcend politics", we have to remember that American values under a Trump administration would change fundamentally, and would not necessarily be enough to propel the relationship.

Standing by Taiwan wouldn't hurt China in the way he wants, and would require America to do something for no immediate financial benefit, so he won't. While it would, long-term, benefit America to stand by Taiwan, it doesn't have an immediate "America First" impact that would appeal to his nativist rhetoric.

The scary part is that the Chinese government is not stupid. It's evil. They are not the same thing.

They know that the only president likely to want America to stand by Taiwan is Clinton. They know that a Trump presidency would mean America would stand by as China invaded, because Trump would view protecting Taiwan as helping a "weak" country - something he's already said he's not interested in doing. China knows that this might be the best chance they will ever get to take Taiwan by force, as they surely already understand that peaceful entreaties will never work on the Taiwanese. They will never win the hearts and minds of the Taiwanese.

The only thing standing in the way of China under a Trump presidency, then, would be if China doesn't actually want to control Taiwan but simply to use it as an ongoing conflict to stoke nationalist sentiment and rhetoric.

Therefore, if anybody but Clinton wins, I hate to sound like a nihilist or pessimist, but Taiwan is screwed.

If you are Taiwanese or you live in Taiwan, you should be nervous. Your hands should be shaking. You should start thinking about the future, because this threat is real.

You should also be voting Clinton, because she's the only choice that is most likely to guarantee  that Taiwan gets to continue to exist.

3 comments:

Matt Stone said...

Well, good news for Hillary from the FBI this morning, so fingers crossed....

Andy Huffer said...

Curious what your sentiments are considering Trump just called Taiwan and probably angered China?

This whole blog post...and yet....

Jenna Cody said...

I just wrote a post about that. I do not necessarily think it is a good thing.

BTW, he didn't call her. She called him.