Taiwan and the US Presidential Elections: Don't Hold Your Breath

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Thursday October 11, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

The USA will be electing its President this coming November 6th and many US citizens of Taiwan descent may be wondering which candidate would be better suited for Taiwan. i.e. would Barack Obama or Mitt Romney be the better choice vis-a-vis Taiwan's future. My advice, don't hold your breath even thinking about it; vote for whomever you think is best suited to solve the challenges facing US citizens like health care, tax equality, jobs etc.

That may sound strange coming from one who has always supported the US helping Taiwan, but it is realistic.

Recently Richard Bush who is director of Northeast Asian Policy Studies for Brookings Institute presented a paper saying that Chinese leaders and analysts are not that concerned over the rhetoric that either candidate may use during the campaign even if they talk about "getting tough with China." The reality is it is simply campaign rhetoric. And the Chinese are right; and Bush is right.

If one looks at history from 1945 on where the US has been "undecided" on Taiwan's fate, the reality is that US presidents must first put the national interests of the US first. When the rubber meets the road, they will put the US interest first and regardless of what was said in the campaign, that is what they will be judged by in the USA.

So, should campaign promises that indicate toughness on China, or help for Taiwan be one's main reason for selecting this or that candidate? No. Vote for the person you feel will best handle the problems of the USA; and if both candidates are equal there, then vote on where they stand on Taiwan. However, when it comes to members of Congress, now that is a different story--they have always been the ones that have stood up for Taiwan when it needed friends.