Even in the last days before former U.S. President Donald Trump left the White House, with many things on his mind, he still thought of protecting the people of Taiwan by declassifying the U.S. Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific (henceforth, the Framework).
The security document highlights Taiwan’s role in combating the Chinese regime’s military aggression, and is part of the Trump administration’s broader national security policy first disclosed in 2017, in which he called for a “free and open Indo-Pacific.”
The key points of the Framework are as follows: “Deter China from using military force against the United States and U.S. allies or partners and develop the capabilities and concepts to defeat Chinese actions across the spectrum of conflict. … [D]evise and implement a defense strategy capable of, but not limited to: (1) denying China sustained air and sea dominance inside the ‘first island chain’ in a conflict; (2) defending the first-island-chain nations, including Taiwan; and (3) dominating all domains outside the first island-chain.”
The Framework is Trump’s international political legacy, which he has passed on to the Biden administration. Being worried that the Biden administration might significantly adjust the U.S.-China policy, Trump published this secret document to expose it to the world. This gives the international community an opportunity to be aware of the China policy set in place by the Trump administration. If Biden wants to take a different route, he must have sufficient grounds to convince the American people and its allies.
This is also Trump’s assurance to the Indo-Pacific allies that followed him, that he has not failed in his commitment to them. He completed the outline of U.S. policy toward China, which is to safeguard the interests of the Indo-Pacific alliance and protect the integrity of the anti-communist front comprised of the United States and other countries.
This national policy outline restricts Biden’s relations with China, provides a guideline to America’s Indo-Pacific allies, and strengthens the allies’ confidence in the stability of the U.S. policy.
This document is a gift to Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen. Even though Tsai congratulated Biden on his election win before it was official, Trump still showed such kindness to the Taiwan government and people. It shows that Trump is not only a successful businessman, but also a great political leader.
I am sure that Tsai’s government was relieved to receive this gift. Although Biden’s China policy is unclear at this point, and many of the new government officials appointed by Biden are supposedly Taiwan’s “old friends,” Tsai cannot be absolutely sure whether Biden will or won’t collaborate with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). But Trump’s Framework emphasizes the United States’ substantive commitment to Taiwan’s defense. It is equivalent to saying that, should the CCP use force against Taiwan, the United States will definitely intervene militarily, the CCP’s air and sea dominance will not be tolerated, and the United States is committed to defend the countries and regions of the first island chain, including Taiwan.
This declassified document serves as a warning to the CCP. The CCP has long threatened Taiwan with attacks, including military ones. However, it is not fully sure whether the United States, at a critical moment, will intervene in cross-strait military disputes. The CCP certainly hopes that the United States will do nothing. But knowing that this is only their own subjective wish, now that the Americans have clarified their intentions, the CCP should not dare test their luck. Before initiating a war, they have to take into account the possibility of the United States participating in it. In view of the disparity between the military forces of the two countries, the CCP has to be careful about the timing of a war.
The Framework is also a heavy blow to the pro-Beijing Kuomintang (KMT) party and former president Ma Ying-jeou. Ma previously stated, “China will wage a battle, which will be quick and will be the last battle for Taiwan.”
I believe Ma’s statement was based on his hope that the United States would not intervene in a cross-strait war, the CCP would have an overwhelming advantage, and Taiwan would be defeated. It was pure propaganda from Ma and the KMT to destroy the relationship between the Taiwanese people and Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). It served to scare the people about the CCP’s military threat and served to realize the CCP’s great cause of “reunification,” also known as the liberation of Taiwan by the CCP. Now the true face of the KMT and Ma Ying-jeou has been exposed: they have been serving the CCP and betraying Taiwan and its domestic interests.
During the four years of the Trump administration, the Tsai government has obtained great help and support, and Taiwan’s international status has greatly improved. The political and economic situation in Taiwan has also developed towards the brighter side. Although helping Taiwan is the flip side of containing the CCP, objectively, it gives all Chinese people a chance to watch democracy and freedom being preserved on this self-ruled island, allowing the Taiwanese to maintain their optimism and hope in a better future while battling against the CCP.
Even though Trump had to say goodbye to American politics, he still looked out for Taiwan, and also Hong Kong. He strengthened Taiwan’s international situation and made sure that Hong Kong would not be violently suppressed by the Chinese military. Trump has done many good things, and we will not forget him.
Ngan Shunkau is a writer and a publisher who has lived in Hong Kong since 1978. He is the author of “Blood Rain in My Youth” (血雨華年), a story about opposing factions among the Red Guards during China’s Cultural Revolution.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.