Taiwan should strengthen relationship with Congress regardless of election: Bolton

Bolton believes Trump will call Xi Jinping again in order to start trade negotiations if he wins re-election

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John Bolton

John Bolton (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan is currently keeping a close eye on which candidate will take over the White House in November, and whether Donald Trump remains or Joe Biden takes over, it is difficult to say who would be more beneficial for the island country, according to former White House National Security Adviser John Bolton.

Bolton pointed out in an exclusive interview with CNA that currently the U.S. as a whole is fully rethinking its policy toward China. In his opinion, if the Democrats win the election, Beijing may actually take a harder stance against Washington.

He suggested that regardless of who wins the election, Taiwan should continue to cooperate with members of the U.S. Congress from both sides of the aisle. The country should also continue its diplomatic efforts in order to show the world what contributions it can make economically and politically.

In Bolton's recently released book, the former national security adviser said that President Trump pushed back against excessive involvement on issues such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the Tiananmen Square massacre in order to help his reelection chances and reach a trade deal with China.

However, since the Democratic Party has historically chosen a moderate engagement policy towards Beijing — in addition to Joe Biden’s stance on China in the past and his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings with the Chinese — the outside world still generally sees a Biden presidency as less favorable for Taiwan.

Bolton did emphasize that the United States is currently in the midst of re-examining its position on China. Over the past few decades, American policymakers believed that economic reforms started in China by Deng Xiaoping would eventually lead to Beijing becoming a more responsible member of the international community as well as put them on the path toward democracy; unfortunately, both of those predictions are inaccurate, Bolton said.

In this context, Bolton pointed out that the Democratic Party could get tougher on Beijing, which would be important for Taiwan. As for Trump, who will no longer have the pressure of re-election, it is harder to say.

Bolton explained that even after the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, it was difficult to know whether Trump’s thinking on China had actually changed. He said Trump’s behavior shows that he only cares about re-election and that Trump will continue to take a hard stance on Beijing during these last four months before the election, but the problem is that if Trump is elected on November 3, no one knows what he will do on November 4.

When the election is no longer a consideration, Bolton believes that Trump will call Xi Jinping again in order to start trade negotiations with China.