Taiwanese president is watching American election, denies devising strategy for US relations if Biden wins

Lawrence Chung
·2-min read

Taiwan has vowed to respect whatever decisions are made by America as the United States presidential election hangs in the balance.

The office of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Thursday dismissed a local news report that Tsai – known for her close relationship with US President Donald Trump’s administration – had to come up with response strategies in the event the US leadership changed.

“The presidential office, national security and other relevant agencies are closely following and watching the progress of the US elections. It has been a long-time practice of the presidential office not to comment on the domestic politics of other countries, nor would we take any side,” presidential spokesman Xavier Chang said.

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“For a democratic country like the US, we respect whatever outcome of the election which is made through a sound constitutional system,” Chang said, adding that after the result was known Taiwan would congratulate the winner in an appropriate way.

Tsai and her government would offer their views on the international situation after the elections, he said.

In a poll by the British firm YouGov last month, 42 per cent of people surveyed in Taiwan favoured Trump for a second term. But the island is treading cautiously over its response to the US election in which Democrat Joe Biden is currently leading.

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Under Trump, Taiwan’s relations with the US have been described by Tsai as the best they have been in more than four decades, as shown by Trump signing various Taiwan-friendly bills as well as approving 10 arms deals since he took office in 2017.

Some of Taiwan’s opposition Kuomintang party politicians have criticised Tsai and her administration for taking sides on Trump, accusing them of boosting ties with the US president to counter mainland China.

Beijing suspended official exchanges with Taipei after Tsai was first elected president in 2016 and refused to accept the one-China principle.

The Kuomintang said a Biden leadership might put Taiwan in an awkward position as he might assume a softer approach in dealing with the mainland than Trump.

But Bau Tzong-ho, professor emeritus of political science at National Taiwan University, said if Biden was elected president he was unlikely to change US policy towards Taiwan.

“It is unlikely he would back off the US support for Taiwan,” Bau said, but added that when compared with Trump, Biden would be more likely to abide by the one-China policy and the three communiques that underpin US-China ties.

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