by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Former vice president Joe Biden’s willingness to abandon the Trump administration’s efforts to strengthen Taiwan could create major problems in the region and bolster China, defense experts say.
“I don’t have very high expectations,” said Heritage Foundation national security expert James Jay Carafano. “China will have a lot of cards to play.”
“Taiwan is the new Hong Kong, it’s the new canary in the mineshaft,” Carafano continued. “For the West not to stand up for Taiwan is a really strong signal that you’re not really going to push back on the Chinese anywhere.”
Biden’s own record on Taiwan, as well as the public writings of his top foreign-policy surrogates and advisers, hints at potentially dangerous policies for both the United States and Taiwan. In 2001, Biden authored an op-ed arguing that U.S. support for the country could “draw us into a war across the Taiwan Strait.” Meanwhile, recent editorials from some of Biden’s top Indo-Pacific advisers spell out a vision for Taiwan that would downplay U.S. military backing, cut defense spending, and rely on more flexible deterrence to counter Beijing. Zack Cooper, China scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, said such measures would only fuel Chinese ambitions in the region.
“You will see some serious downward pressure on the defense budget,” Cooper told the Washington Free Beacon. “I think the Democrats know that this is going to be a real tension.”
Carafano lodged similar complaints. “The problem with our enemies is that they can all count,” he said. “We can do all this stuff about how we are going to be smarter on defense…. That has zero impact on great-power competition.”
The Biden campaign did not return a request for comment about Democrats’ past handling of Taiwan, including his eight-year tenure as vice president.