TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – United States President Donald Trump’s choice as a new national security adviser, John Bolton, has a reputation for tough talk, including some past eyebrow-raising comments favoring Taiwan over China.
Bolton, 69, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations during the presidency of George W. Bush, has been described as an “Uber-Hawk” by Foreign Policy magazine and is not afraid of belligerent talk on a wide range of issues from Iran to North Korea.
The BBC labeled him as a “strident neoconservative,” but it is on Taiwan, China and the U.S. attitude toward the two that Bolton has stirred up concern from some and enthusiasm from others.
He suggested that Washington and Taipei should restore official diplomatic relations, that Taiwan should have a seat at the United Nations, and that the U.S. should move troops from Okinawa in Japan, where residents often protest against their presence, to Taiwan, despite the absence of formal diplomatic relations and the likelihood of strong Chinese protests. His views were compared with those of General Douglas McArthur, who saw Taiwan as an “unsinkable aircraft carrier” near the coast of China, Foreign Policy reported.
The former diplomat also advised the Trump Administration to review the “One China” formula and to step up arms sales to Taiwan, leading to a Foreign Policy description of him as an “outspoken supporter of Taiwanese self-determination.”
Speaking on a Taiwanese radio show Friday, Project 2019 Institute expert Ian Easton suggested that Bolton might advise President Trump to call President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), in a repeat performance of the late 2016 phone call between the two which riled China and surprised the world.
As Trump was gearing up for a trade war with China, several of his more recent appointments were seen as hawks on the relationship with the Asian communist giant, including Bolton, new Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and trade adviser Peter Navarro, reports said.