Trump seizes a new cudgel to bash China: Taiwan

But even the Trump administration is willing to upgrade ties only so far, fearing Beijing’s wrath.

Date: 05/21/2020
By: Nahal Toosi and Lara Seligman

President Donald Trump himself has yet to publicly weigh in on the inauguration of Taiwan’s president for a second term this week. | Evan Vucci/AP Photo

As Taiwan’s president was inaugurated for a second term this week, Trump administration officials had some choices to make: How do they congratulate her? Which U.S. official does what?

And, above all, how much do they stick it to the Beijing government in the process?

They ultimately went with a mix: A State Department official and a top White House aide sent video messages for the event, while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo opted for a written statement in advance and some public remarks afterward. The U.S. also announced a potential deal to sell torpedoes to the island, whose disputed political status has long been a fraught subject of U.S.-China relations.

But President Donald Trump himself has yet to publicly weigh in.

So far, the maneuvering has appeared to be aggressive enough to inspire both Taiwanese gratitude and Chinese rhetorical backlash; Beijing has threatened “necessary measures in response” to America’s expressions of congratulations. But — for now at least — the Trump team’s tactics also have been restrained enough to keep tensions from spiraling out of control.

The Trump administration’s approach to Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s Wednesday inauguration in illustrative of its broader strategy toward an authoritarian government in Beijing that it views as a long-term threat to U.S. dominance: Push Chinese Communist Party leaders hard, but not to the point of diplomatic rupture or open warfare.    [FULL  STORY]