Many people say that they will leave the country if their preferred candidate doesn’t win the upcoming presidential election. This is the first election that I will be eligible to vote in, after becoming a naturalized citizen in 2015. To me, this election means more than just what will happen in the states, I believe it is important to elect the candidate who will be the best both my home country, Taiwan, and the US. I wanted to do a shallow exploration of what US and Taiwan relations would look like in either presidency and to see if it moving home is a viable option in the event I am unhappy with the turnout of the new America each candidate has envisioned. After taking a further look into each candidate’s policies, you can see how much of an impact voting for one candidate or the other can have on the international stage.
It is difficult to understand what US and Taiwan relations would look like under Trump, as he has not formally discussed Taiwan in detail. However, if we take a look at his policies against China, we can gain some insight as to what might happen. Trump would like to renegotiate trade deals with China, so if China’s economy ends up flourishing under Trump’s renegotiations and Taiwan continues to latch on to China’s economy, Taiwan’s economy in theory should also do well. In the case that Trump renegotiates trade that is negative to China’s economy, and because Trump is against the TPP, there would be very few avenues of economic independence from China that Taiwan could take, which would lead to decline to Taiwan’s economy.
Trump also no longer wants to defend Allies such as Japan and South Korea as neither of them have any policies stating they will send help in the case the US is attacked. He suggested they arm themselves with nuclear weapons to defend themselves against North Korea and China. Trump has never stated anything about the Taiwan Relations Act, but if he is unwilling to defend one of America’s closest allies in Japan, how likely will he honor the Taiwan Relations Act? This is extremely counterintuitive to most of his policies as he keeps speaking about keeping China in check and “winning” against them, but he is unwilling to protect allies from China. If Trump does not honor the Taiwan Relations Act, and wants to leave Taiwan to fend for itself, then moving back to Taiwan may not be the best move.
Clinton has had a very strong stance on Taiwan, in an interview with Taiwan’s Business Weekly Magazine , she criticized Ma Ying-jeou’s policies which could make Taiwan lose economic and political independence. During the interview, she compared the situation to the Ukraine and Russia, stating that economic dependence would eventually lead to political dependence. In her memoir “Hard Choices” she going as far as to say that China is a disruptive presence on the international scene.
Hilary supports the Taiwan Relations Act and will proceed forward with President Obama’s stance on Taiwan, hoping for the development of peaceful cross-strait relations.and understands the cross strait situation very well. She knows Taiwan is becoming too dependent on China economically, and has the foresight to compare it to the situation that happened in Ukraine and Russia. In the case I am unhappy with how America has changed under Hilary, I believe moving home to Taiwan is a viable solution as she is likely to maintain the current status quo in Taiwan.
Ultimately, I think it will be difficult to say exactly how things will turn out because everything is too dependent on many different factors. What will the trade renegotiations for Trump look like? If Clinton goes back on her word and ratifies the TPP, what will the TPP look like and will Taiwan join to decrease dependence on China? Either way, I encourage everyone to take a further look into each candidate’s policies and to not just think about the implications domestically but also internationally.
Please go out and vote for the candidate that you think will be the best for both your homes on Tuesday Nov 8th.
Disclaimer: The viewpoints expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, viewpoints and mission of Outreach for Taiwan