After the Call: Does Taiwan Have a Plan for the Trump Years?
Context for the Call
For Tsai and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), initiating a
historic phone call with the incoming U.S. president is not necessarily
suggestive of an incoming push for de jure independence from Taiwan.
Instead, the decision may represent more careful diplomatic maneuvering
on Taiwan’s apart. Tsai, as was made clear from her campaign for the
presidency, her inauguration speech, and her conduct as Taiwan’s
president, clearly understands Beijing’s “red lines” for the island. Any
serious hint of a push for de jure independence could lead to serious
conflict with China; accordingly, her government — and the government of
the United States — have not made independence a policy objective.
However, Tsai’s administration has effectively been boxed in by
Beijing. First, there was Tsai’s inauguration speech. After Beijing was
not satisfied with Tsai’s rhetorical treatment of the so-called “1992
consensus” — the understanding between Taipei and Beijing that there is
“one China,” with differing interpretations of what that means — cross-strait communications were unilaterally suspended by China. The decision to do so was casually announced by Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office about a month into Tsai’s tenure.