The United States has had a defense relationship with Taiwan going back to the Carter Administration and it only strengthened through Ronald Reagan’s tenure in office. But the United States has always tried to placate China.
The problem with placating China is that in the last number of years China has more and and more decided that it not only does not need our cooperative friendship, but it also thinks we will hinder its new expansionist tendencies.
I am no China expert, and I have noticed a lot of people who must have stayed in Holiday Inn Expresses lately given their immediate career change into Chinese experts, but this Trump call does not bother me at all. I have long hoped a President would do it to send an appropriate signal to China.
That Trump did it while not yet in the White House was smart on his part because he did it and can get it away with it as a private citizen.
Those people saying he did this solely because he has business interests in Taiwan are being silly. Trump does not want the Taiwan market at the expense of the Chinese market where this is more money. He potentially precludes himself from access to that market now.
When Reagan became President, the same class of people freaking out about Donald Trump calling Taiwan’s President also freaked out about Reagan rejected long held assumptions in our relationship with the Soviet Union. We forget now, but in the sixties and seventies, American elites had settled on a notion of detente with the Soviets where we and they would each have our spheres of influence. As the Soviets tried stretching their legs, we’d try diplomatically engaging them.
It did not work.
Giving head pats to China and following their lead makes them the leader in the relationship and they are not. But a growing number of American elites have been peddling a theory for almost a decade now that the 21st century would be China’s century. Just as demography meant the GOP would never win another Presidential election after 2008, destiny meant China is on the rise and we are old and weak.
The more Trump rejects that notion, the more the elites will complain and the better off we will be.