Taiwan cares more about democracy than being Trump’s bargaining chip

Taipei, Dec 13 (IANS) Taiwan will not become a bargaining chip in the international geopolitical game as long as it can maintain its democracy and broaden international participation, an official has said.

Alex Huang, Taiwan President’s spokesman, said on Monday that the island is pleased with anything that can guarantee freedom, democracy and the expansion of its international participation, EFE news reported.

Huang said this when asked about President-elect Donald Trump’s Sunday comments regarding the “one-China” policy.

“These are our ultimate national interests,” Huang said, adding that Taiwan would be pleased to see changes in any governments’ policies that will help the island reach those “ultimate national interests”.

According to Trump, the US does not necessarily have to recognise the “one-China” policy. His comments sparked anger in China.

“I fully understand the “one-China” policy, but I don’t know why we have to be bound by a “one-China” policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade,” Trump said.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, who angered China with a direct call to Trump on December 2, did not react on the President-elect’s comments.

Taiwanese politicians and experts showed a mix of delight and concern.

Many expressed concern that the US could use Taiwan as a bargaining chip in its trade negotiations with China and that kind of pressure on Beijing could lead to Chinese reprisals on the island.

Kuomintang Culture and Communications Committee Deputy Director Tang Te-ming said Trump’s comments reflected how the island nation was bound by the present negotiating conditions.

“Taiwan does not have much of a role in the situation,” said Tang, adding that the island should do everything possible to prepare for an eventual agreement between Washington and Beijing.

KMT caucus Secretary General Johnny Chiang said Trump would not hesitate in using whatever leverage he had at his disposal “including Taiwan”.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Luo Chih-cheng warned that Trump’s stance could be a “double-edged sword”.

“For Trump, policies are not necessarily a precondition, meaning that he can accept the policy or not accept it depending on negotiations,” he reiterated.

Taiwan and China have been going through a worsening period in their relations since May this year, in the face of the Taiwanese president’s refusal to accept the Beijing demand to recognise that the island is part of China.

The predictable tightening of the US stance toward China with Trump’s coming to power will have a noticeable effect on Taiwan, which relies on the US to defend itself against the threat of Chinese invasion, but also needs good relations with Beijing for economic development.