Saturday December 03, 2016
Trump and Taiwan: Bu Hao Yisi
On Friday, President-Elect Donald Trump took a phone call from the president of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, in violation of official U.S. policy in place since 1979. We don't officially recognize Taiwan. All three countries involved, in fact, have a “one China” policy: They all agree Taiwan is part of China; they just disagree on where its capital is, not to mention what form of government it has.
Why did he do it?
- The phone call came and he didn't want to be rude.
- He mixed up Taiwan and Thailand.
- He's working on a deal to put a Trump hotel in Taiwan.
- John Bolton
Yesterday, I assumed it was a mix of 3) and Trump's usual “Who gives a fuck” attitude about everything, but Evan Osnos in The New Yorker suggests a more worrisome reason. Yes, more worrisome than POTUS ignoring decades of policy to further feather his nest:
In the hours that followed, it became clear that Trump may have been manipulated into doing something he doesn't understand. Michael Crowley, of Politico, noted that the former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, who favors a tilt away from Beijing, visited Trump Tower on Friday for undisclosed reasons. Bolton has argued for “playing the Taiwan card” to pressure Beijing.
Then Osnos makes it even scarier:
For a piece I published in September, about what Trump's first term could look like, I spoke to a former Republican White House official whom Trump has consulted, who told me, “Honestly, the problem with Donald is he doesn't know what he doesn't know.” It turns out that is half of the problem; the other half is that he has surrounded himself with people who know how much he doesn't know. Since Election Day, Trump has largely avoided receiving intelligence briefings, either because he doesn't think it's important that he receive them or because he just doesn't care about them. George W. Bush, in the first months of 2001, ignored warnings about Osama bin Laden. Only in our darkest imaginings can we wonder what warnings Trump is ignoring now.
Reminder: Trump is still two months from inauguration.