The stunning election of Donald Trump as the next US President has sent shock waves around the globe as world leaders have called in to offer their congrats to the president-elect, while wondering just what the heck is going to happen after January 20th.
Yesterday, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen also congratulated Trump on his victory and expressed that she has “confidence in future US-Taiwan relations” that are based around shared values like freedom, democracy and human rights.
“The US is the most important democracy in the world as well as Taiwan’s most solid partner. We are looking forward to working with Trump’s administration in deepening the US-Taiwan relationship and turning [Taipei into] a key foundation for maintaining peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region,” Tsai said in a statement issued by the Presidential Office.
However, many economists are less optimistic about Taiwanese prospects during a Trump administration. During his campaign, Trump has espoused protectionist policies which would likely hurt Taiwan’s economy. China Post reports that former Finance Minister Chang Sheng-ford noted that the US is the second largest market for Taiwanese exports, behind only China, and Taiwan is home to many joint enterprises which will be at risk when Trump takes office.
“If Trump goes with his protectionist leanings, one cannot rule out the possibility that he will demand all Apple suppliers to set up factories in the US,” Chang said.
Despite worries about Taiwan’s economy, most experts believe that the US will continue its long-standing support of Taiwan in much the same way as it has in the past, while admitting that Trump will likely still be “unpredictable” when it comes to cross-strait policy.
According to Focus Taiwan, a number of Taiwanese scholars like Liao Da-chi, a professor in National Sun Yat-sen University’s Institute of Political Science, have offered their opinion that Trump will ask Taiwan to purchase weapons from the US, helping out American arms dealers and decreasing direct US government defense investment on the island.
At the same time, Lai I-chung, a scholar at the green-leaning Taiwan Thinktank, said that it was simply impossible to know what Trump’s presidency would mean, since he had yet to select a cabinet.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lo Chih-cheng agreed with Lai in focusing on the importance of the people who Trump chooses to put around him. So far there have been few indications about who those individuals will be when it comes to foreign policy.
“One thing that bears watching in the coming days is who will make up Trump’s national security team, and what is this team’s views and policies on the Asia-Pacific region,” he said.
At this point, not even Trump likely knows the answer to those questions.