TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- New National Security Adviser John Bolton, who takes on the role today (April 9), has previously indicated that he thinks the U.S. should challenge Beijing over its "one-China" policy and even station troops in Taiwan, and though he has emphasized that he would set aside his opinions when implementing President Donald Trump's policy, there are signs indicating that many of his views could become reality.
Despite the fact that Bolton has claimed that his personal views would not influence his decisions and that such opinions stated in the past were "behind me now," as he stated to Fox News, it is precisely because of his hawkish views on a wide spectrum of subjects including Iran and North Korea that Trump has picked him. Thus, Beijing is going to be casting a wary eye on Bolton's approach to the "one-China" policy.
In a commentary titled "The U.S. Can Play a Taiwan Card," published on Jan. 17, 2016, Bolton suggested that potential a new Republican president could address what he described the "vacuum" in America's China policy in part by changing the U.S. stance on the "one-China" policy. "This may involve modifying or even jettisoning the ambiguous 'one-China' mantra, along with even more far-reaching initiatives to counter Beijing's rapidly accelerating political and military aggressiveness in the South and East China seas," wrote Bolton.
Bolton has demonstrated himself to be an outspoken supporter of Taiwan and has recommended increased U.S. arm sales to the country, and given that Trump chose him for his views expressed as a commentator on Fox News, these opinions may quickly transform into policy. In an interview with the Voice of America (VOA), Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power Project at Center for International and Strategic Studies, said "Bolton claimed he would set aside his personal policy preferences and implement Trump's policy, but I'd be surprised if he doesn't push for some of his long-standing priorities. Among those are regime change in North Korea and closer ties with Taiwan."
Harry Kazianis, director of Defense Studies at the Center for the National Interest, in an interview with the VOA said that Bolton will back Trump's current tariff tactics with China, take a more aggressive stance in the East and South China Seas and "press for Taiwan to get a much more full-throated relationship with the U.S. — and very likely a full-up review of our ties with Taipei."
In another opinion piece titled "Revisit the "One-China Policy" published in the Wall Street Journal on Jan. 16 of last year, Bolton even recommended at least partially relocating U.S. troops from Okinawa to Taiwan: “Washington might also help ease tensions with Tokyo by redeploying at least some US forces from Okinawa, a festering problem in the US-Japan relationship."
Bolton reasons that Taiwan is closer to the mainland of East Asia and the South China Sea than either current U.S. bases in Okinawa and Guam and that there is little chance that the current Philippine government under President Rodrigo Duterte would willing to increase military cooperation.