There is “no going back” in the relations between the United States and China, even though President-elect Joe Biden is likely to seek cooperation with Beijing on certain issues, Taiwan’s top security analyst said on Monday.
Su Tzu-yun, a senior staff member of the Institute of National Defense and Security Research, said Taipei could be sure of a “Taiwan consensus” on both sides of the aisle in Congress.
At a seminar organized by the Institute for National Policy Research, a local think tank, Su and other opinion leaders agreed that a Biden administration would continue to try to curb “Chinese expansionism.
“The bipartisan consensus on Taiwan recognized by both the Republican and Democratic parties will not change,” Su said, adding, “The period after the Trump or before the Biden will follow a predictable path.
Based on the American foreign policy under President Barack Obama, Biden will probably continue a version of the “Pivot to Asia” strategy that is also being pursued by the Trump administration, Su argued. However, the tactics of the president-elect would be less aggressive.
“American efforts to contain China will not change because there are still issues of trade, technology and military security,” he said.
“In a manifesto-like essay in Foreign Affairs earlier this year, Biden had already identified China as a key challenge,” Su added. “There is only one way to deal with such a challenge. That is to work with allies and partners to resist China’s bullying and human rights abuses.
He said Biden would continue to compete with China on traditional issues such as military and security, but would ask Beijing for cooperation on non-traditional issues such as climate change.
“Relations between the US and China have undergone a structural change,” Su noted. “There is no going back.”
The senior national security researcher said he expected a Biden administration to take a multilateral approach to foreign policy, in line with the Democratic Party. This would include increased cooperation with the navy in the Asia-Pacific region and continued work with the Quad Nations and Five Eyes.
He also expected that arms sales between Taipei and Washington would continue.
“If Biden enters the White House, I don’t think that arms sales to Taiwan will change,” Su said. “Those already announced by the Trump administration will not change, and future sales by a Biden administration will not be reduced in either quantity or quality”.
However, during the seminar, Su noted the importance of Taiwan’s own defense capabilities.
“The most important thing is that we cannot continue to rely on the goodwill of others. We must rely on our own capabilities,” the expert said.
US-China relations have undergone a structural change. There is no going back.
He added: “Strategically, the relationship across the Strait is naturally linked to larger Asia-Pacific relationships. In these circumstances, Taiwan needs to find a balance.
“We may not be able to fundamentally change this structure, but we can at least make a meaningful contribution to the defense of our small nation.
Insecurity after the elections
Taiwan’s seemingly undecided future relationship with Washington is currently high on the agenda of local thought leaders and political talk show panels.
Even before the election for the former vice president was called, Taiwan’s head of state Tsai Ing-wen had already made a statement in the hope of reassuring his pro-trump voters. She assured them that she could work with both candidates.
Now it is my turn to congratulate @JoeBiden & @KamalaHarris on their election as President & VP-elect. The values on which we have built our relationship could not be stronger. I look forward to working together to further our friendship and contribute to the international community. https://t.co/xIvit7emjH
– è¡è±æ Tsai Ing-wen (@iingwen) November 8, 2020
Many of the island’s 23 million inhabitants seem uncertain whether a Biden administration would continue to support Taiwan in its escalating stalemate with China and whether it would take as hard a line on Beijing as President Donald Trump.
In a recent post-election