by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Last week, Taiwan announced a major donation of over seven million face masks to the U.S., Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia in response to the ongoing coronavirus crisis. In Wisconsin, we experienced this generosity firsthand in the form of 100,000 surgical-grade masks. … This donation marked the third tranche of substantial international assistance from Taiwan, which stands in stark contrast to behavior of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) throughout the crisis.
The CCP’s contributions to the pandemic have inspired legislation holding the CCP legally liable and rapidly reducing supply-chain dependencies on China. These are solid steps, but in our new Cold War, the strategic center of gravity is not the CCP, but rather our allies and partners. As one Chinese diplomat wrote in 2012, “the core of competition between China and the United States will be to see who has more high-quality friends.”
It’s hard to have a more high-quality friend than Taiwan — a vibrant democracy under intense pressure that deserves our full support.
Unfortunately, support for Taiwan has been inconsistent. Unlike NATO’s crystal-clear Article V collective-defense commitment, the U.S. commitment to Taiwan has been muddled. Since the Carter administration, the United States has adopted a policy of “strategic ambiguity.” Once upon a time, proponents of this strategy may have told themselves that they were calming tensions by deterring both sides from precipitous action: Beijing could not count on our restraint if they opted for invasion, while Taipei could not count on our support if they declared independence.
Yet while Taiwan has embraced restrained, responsible statecraft, Beijing has poached Taiwan’s diplomatic allies, used economic leverage to punish Taipei, and engaged in dangerous military provocations with growing frequency.
Carolina Journal Radio highlighted America’s adversarial relationship with China during a recent interview with Walter Lohman of the Heritage Foundation.