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Why Iowans should pay attention to Taiwan’s Presidential Election

Posted on Friday, January 12, 2024
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by AMAC Newsline
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12 Comments

AMAC Exclusive – By W.J. Lee

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Taiwan’s presidential election on January 13 will have dramatic implications for American national security and the brewing conflict with China. With the Iowa Caucuses set to take place just two days later, Hawkeye State voters should pay close attention to the results from Taiwan as they kick off the presidential nominating contests here in the United States.

Taiwan’s election features candidates diametrically opposed on the most crucial question facing voters on the island nation – whether to reunite with China or seek a closer alliance with the United States and the West.

Lai Ching-te, the Democratic Progressive Party’s presidential candidate and current vice president, is a strong advocate for Taiwanese sovereignty and closer ties with America and other democracies.

But Lai is only leading in public polls by the smallest of margins against his rival Hou Yu-ih, the Kuomintang Party nominee, who is a proponent of making a “peaceful compromise” with China. Experts on the Taiwan-China conflict have warned that Hou is little more than a puppet of Beijing and would seek to turn control of the island over to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

That would be bad news for the United States and the West, which rely heavily on Taiwan for high-tech computer chips. If Beijing gains control of Taiwan, China would have a stranglehold on the global tech sector.

The dead heat election is the latest high stakes battle between Washington and Beijing. China’s Xi repeated his intention to unify the island with the Chinese mainland in a speech on January 1, calling reunification an “historical inevitability.”

Meanwhile, Chinese military operations have ramped up over the years around Taiwan in what security experts say might be a rehearsal for things to come.

The prospect of conflict on an island that makes over 90 percent of the world’s advanced semiconductors for everything from modern cars to iPhones would be disastrous. Accordingly, last month the U.S. State Department authorized a $300 million sale of military equipment to Taiwan in an effort to boost the island’s defense. Days later, Xi again bluntly warned President Joe Biden at their summit in San Francisco that Beijing will soon rule Taiwan.

However, in the lead-up to this election, Xi has tamped down the militaristic rhetoric in favor of indications that China wants to take control of Taiwan peacefully. Xi may view the contest on January 13 as his best opportunity to do so – and resort to force if things don’t go his way.

It would be a major win for China if Xi can persuade Taiwan to willingly unite under his rule. Beijing is openly attempting to influence the election, with Zhang Zhijun, a top Chinese official, urging voters to make the “correct choice” and saying the Taiwan election is an “important choice between the prospects for peace and war, prosperity and decline.”

Reports have also surfaced that Beijing has launched “interference efforts” to influence the outcome of the election in its favor. These include efforts by Chinese Communist Party operatives to sway online public opinion in favor of Hou and spreading lies about Lai.

No matter the result, the next president of the United States will have a volatile diplomatic situation to deal with in the South Pacific.

If Hou wins, it would likely mean that the supply of microchips and other high-tech products to the United States is in serious jeopardy. Overnight Taiwan would turn from one of America’s most important strategic allies in the Pacific to one of its most serious threats.

If Lai wins, Americans can breathe a sigh of relief – but only a temporary one.

Though the Democratic Progressive Party won’t turn control of the island over to Beijing peacefully, Xi may decide on direct military action to take the country. The next American president will thus enjoy all the advantages of closer ties with Taiwan but may have to deal with an aggressive China trying to save face.

Even if China doesn’t invade Taiwan, Xi could benefit by using a Lai victory as an excuse to consolidate his power and inflame Chinese nationalist sentiment. The prospects of a strengthening “separatist” island just 100 miles off the Chinese coast being armed by China’s superpower rival in the United States will likely metastasize into a mirror image of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, only this time with the roles will be reversed. America was able to use restraint in that tense stand-off with Soviet communists’ forces, but how restrained will the Chinese be if put in a similar situation?

The Taiwan presidential election results will be hugely consequential for America. The question of who will lead our democracies, both in Taiwan and in the U.S., during the next heightened world security crisis will likely be decided in the coming days.

Iowans preparing to head to the polls next week should carefully consider which Republican candidate for president has already proven a capacity to make difficult decisions in the face of an aggressive China. The safety of America could very well depend on it.

W.J. Lee has served in the White House, NASA, on multiple political campaigns, and in nearly all levels of government. In his free time, he enjoys the “three R’s” – reading, running, and writing.

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Max
Max
3 months ago

Remember what happened to Hong Kong when Great Britain handed HK back to the China. China made promises galore to keep HK as it was. Oops, all the promises went to the wayside. If Hou Yu-ih wins despite any promises that China makes you can rest assure that China will clamp down big time. Besides, who will stop them?

anna hubert
anna hubert
3 months ago

Unfortunately the Republican capable of grabbing the bull by the horns will be most probably tied up in the nasty business orchestrated by dems As for peaceful compromise with China Hitler comes to mind

David Millikan
David Millikan
3 months ago

WHY isn’t the United States building our own Computer Chips instead of relying on a foreign country. I would say that is a matter of National Security for the United States and COMMON SENSE. Not to mention, AMERICAN JOBS.

Chris
Chris
3 months ago

Maybe the owners of all the computer chip factorys will plant Explosives and blow up the factorys. That would give the finger to the whole world. The American government would shutdown car manufacturing. Who? EPA, American air clean, American air clean. What about copying old cars like a 1968 Chevrolet? No computer chips. Government will say not allowed. CHRIS

Herb S
Herb S
3 months ago

Why are chips not being made in north america?

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
3 months ago

Joe thinks “china” is the plate mommy Jill says he can’t eat from because he’ll break it.

John Shipway
John Shipway
3 months ago

OH MY GOD……..the Taiwanese might vote to reunite with the mainland which every legal organization on earth already recognizes as being a single entity…..Taiwan is China, China is Taiwan.
The US is so scared of actually having to compete we are willing to go to war to keep the two from voting for complete reunification. That says a lot about the “American can do spirit” huh?
The US is a nation of weak entitled sniveling pieces of crap leadership wise continually place into power by a zombied citizenry.
Did anyone catch the little article about the jillion gallons of fuel Brandon ordered stored in the Philippines to provide fuel for a fleet of targets Brandon plans on having China sink?
God bless America

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