Trump’s Sharpie: A Wake-Up Call for Taiwan?

In his new book, former U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton describes how Donald Trump likened the difference in importance between Taiwan and mainland China to the tip of a Sharpie (Taiwan) and his desk (China). Everyone knows the difference in strength between the two. But for the Democratic Progressive Party administration, hearing it from the mouth of Trump, who in their eyes has taken pains to support Taiwan, is particularly upsetting.

In the past, diplomacy between Taiwan and the U.S. has always involved the U.S. as a country, seldom getting dragged into partisan disputes between Republicans and Democrats. This has ensured that whichever party comes to power, the promise made to Taiwan by the U.S. government will not change. After Trump came to power, perhaps the DPP was dazed by his phone call to President Tsai Ing-wen, or maybe they were blinded by Trump’s series of attacks against China — whatever the reason, the DPP mistakenly believed that they and he shared a common resistance against China.

And so Taiwan closely followed Trump on his anti-China path, becoming the vanguard in his anti-China coalition. However, according to Bolton, who is friendly toward Taiwan, in order to help secure his reelection, Trump lauded Xi Jinping as being the greatest leader in China’s history. Taiwan, meanwhile, is still hoping for the end to Xi’s regime.

Trump is a businessman through and through. Under his administration, the U.S. is no longer the global police defending democracy. Instead, it is a calculating and erratic businessperson. To cover up the lack of effort Trump exerted in containing the pandemic in the U.S., he has played the anti-China card. The EU and Japan, however, two of the international democratic forces fighting the pandemic, saw through his tricks early on and aren’t playing along.

Only Taiwan, under the DPP leadership, followed Trump in his global attack and pandemic prevention diplomacy, hoping to use pandemic prevention as a stepping stone to membership in the WHO. In the end, however, Taiwan realized that the U.S. under Trump’s leadership had no plan, not even a policy. Taiwan, which has blindly followed Trump’s anti-China policies, has now been dismissed by Trump. This is a great snub to the DPP, which has repeatedly stated that Taiwan-U.S. relations have never been better.

Actually, Bolton’s new book is a wake-up call, the best warning for the DPP and its pro-America policies. In the past, everyone said Taiwan was America’s chess piece; now, however, it has been reduced to a Sharpie. The government should get rid of its previous one-sided policies toward the U.S. and certainly shouldn’t let itself be kidnapped by Trump. Instead, it should put all its bargaining chips on the Republican Party and return to balancing both U.S. and China policies. It should also return to policies in that don’t favor either U.S. party.

Now, however, with Trump lagging in the polls behind Joe Biden, does Taiwan still want to be the tip of Trump’s Sharpie?

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