Listen: Taiwan, America, China Taiwan discussed on The Economist: The Intelligence
"Frightened of China. The vast majority of countries in the world will never let the president of Taiwan visit America is big enough and strong enough that it doesn't care and does let them visit even America has to be unbelievably careful about the kind of the tiny details of what flag flag is flying all the people she's allowed to visit so it's a real kinda vestige of cold war oddity around this otherwise perfectly normal friendly little country simply because China insists that everyone treats them that way and what is that saying when is hoping to accomplish with American visit in theory. This is a visit to some of her allies. Taiwan's still has seventeen countries which recognize Taiwan have full diplomatic relations <hes> they're mostly small very poor countries in the Caribbean central in America. She's going to visit for them this time and the front and the back of that car opinion tool the Americans are allowing her to visit this is a moment when support for Taiwan is very strong both in Congress and with some senior officials in the trump administration so you so only this week the American government announcing over two billion dollars worth of arms sales to Taiwan which always makes China across because America will it doesn't recognize Taiwan as a country is Taiwan security guarantor basically if China were to invade vade Taiwan America should Taiwan hopes be there but side and yet any visit to America by Taiwanese leadership is going to enrage China and has again. Would it would have how they responded so far so it's been relatively sort of boilerplate. Language from the Foreign Ministry and you've seen complaints in tossing in the state media one very nationalist state newspaper suggested that if these weapons which are basically tanks and missiles are delivered Taiwan that may be China should offer to do bomb them and destroy them unless they're removed that kind of Cuban missile crisis style scenario doesn't seem to be getting play elsewhere these visits they are weirdly serious business. It was back in the nineteen nineties that had an earlier Taiwanese president it was allowed to give a speech at his Alma Mata Cornell University and China launch gigantic missile tests that actually brought to American aircraft carrier battlegroups into the Taiwan Strait so these are these are high stakes but this also comes at a time when mainland China will have been rattled quite a bit by the protests in Hong Kong. I mean what connection do you see between to rest of regions that the mainland takes interest in Hong Kong is a very different case from Taiwan. It is absolutely legally part of China Taiwan is not part of Communist China never has been but what happens in Hong Kong is watched very closely in Taiwan blues protests. Were really a rejection in Hong Kong of the idea that autonomy offered by Beijing under the slogan One Country Two Systems is working very well. Oh that resonates in Taiwan because China's big offer to the Taiwanese is that they can also have one country two systems if they'll agree to come under mainland China's control they could have lots of autonomy so protests involving a million or more people people in the streets of Hong Kong or a dark warning sign to Taiwan that one country two systems might not be all that it's cracked up to be and we've seen that playing out as Taiwan enters election season because Taiwan unlike Hong Kong long unlike mainland China is a proper democracy with big boisterous elections and in this season tying when the incumbent president has actually seen a bit of a boost in her poll numbers because she was pretty tough and outspoken defending the right of Hong in Congress to protest and saying this shows that we can't trust China's offer of autonomy to the extent that her conservative rivals she's going to have to run against for the presidency who are normally very keen on in closer links with China making money by seeking to link the two economies. They actually had to say some unusually tough things about the mainland just to kind of keep themselves in good shape public opinion. Another complicating factor is that America is in this pitched the trade war battle with China surely entertaining the Taiwanese president is going to add tension to that. It is really hard to know what the trump administration's Taiwan policy is. There are a bunch of very senior people around president trump who are lifelong supporters of Taiwan and you can see their influence in his arm sales and probably in this longer visit president trump himself seems not to have a great interest in the fact that Taiwan is democracy. He's famously not very interested in the fact that countries our allies thinks allies as as a burden and so he has been very careful not to use Taiwan as a bargaining chip in these trade talks but it all adds up to the fact that nerves are jangling in Beijing on so many fronts so why should American voters care about Taiwan if they care about China having the right to dominate the whole of the Western Pacific they should certainly care about Taiwan military planners naval admirals they talk about the first island chain especially Japan Taiwan and then down into the Philippines which kind of acts as a kind of barrier that hems in the entire Chinese coastline and for the last several decades the American navy has been able to use that island chain as a barrier to basically Hem China in and to give America free rein. Over the whole of the Pacific having Taiwan as unsinkable aircraft carrier for America right in the middle of that island chain is incredibly important and so what's your view on the likelihood that America's policies around attitude towards Taiwan will change inch American policy is changing to different directions in Congress and in the Pentagon as China becomes more potent military power the either of having Taiwan as a base close to China to kind of Hamilton is increasingly important and president trump is someone who is scornful of the idea of alliances not very interested in the idea that allies are democracies and so you know who knows the deepest fear of the Taiwanese is the president trump they could wake up and he's sold them for a couple of ships soybeans. What about those Taiwanese people? How do they view this visit for example and Messiah being on the on the world stage and the dangers that might present Thomas very divided sauce so her supporters will be pleased to see her getting a good welcome in America that will be a relief the sign that America is on their side? There's another whole half of the country that blames her for provoking China that would be willing to have a closer relationship with China if that keeps them safer and improves the economy frankly and we're heading into an election election in Taiwan and a few months time. She's currently not very popular generally."